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West Van council readies Horseshoe Bay for change

Plan could add up to 300 homes and a grocery store over 20 years
Horseshoe Bay draft local area plan 2
An artist's illustration shows how multiplex housing might look in Horseshoe Bay in the future, according to the District of West Vancouver's local area plan.

After two years of study and public consultations, Horseshoe Bay may be headed for some change.

District of West Vancouver council voted unanimously Monday night to advance the Horseshoe Bay local area plan and schedule a public hearing.

Council’s new official community plan, adopted in 2018, foresees growth and development in the community to reel in younger residents and provide more diversity in West Van’s housing stock. But actual changes to land use and density were deliberately left out of the OCP, pending more neighbourhood-focused local area plans. Horseshoe Bay’s was the first local area plan on staff’s to-do list and it’s the first time since the 1950s the village has gone through a comprehensive planning process.

Between now and the 2040s, the Horseshoe Bay local area plan anticipates another 200 to 300 units of housing to be built in the neighbourhood, mostly through infill development, duplexes, triplexes and townhouses along the outer streets. As the land slopes down to the water, the plan calls for lowrises of up to three or four storeys. Only two sites in the neighbourhood contemplate anything higher – potentially six storeys in between Libby Lodge and the Sewell’s development (but only if redevelopment is for rental housing) and up to five storeys immediately across from the B.C. Ferries terminal (but only if it includes a grocery store and/or rental housing).

Apart from development, the LAP calls for more “mom and pop”-sized commercial spaces, amenities for residents and visitors, beautification of the public realm, and improvements to active transportation infrastructure.

Council members and staff used words like “conservative,” “marginal” and “moderate” to describe the overall change that would flow from the plan.

“Only in West Vancouver would the addition of 200 units over 20-odd years be considered something other than extremely incremental,” said Coun, Craig Cameron. “There will be people, as there is in West Vancouver, who aren't happy with any form of change, but I do think we have to strike a balance between the desire to retain what we like and also adapt to modern realities in the modern world, and keep our community current and renewed. I think this is a very nuanced and subtle balance.”

Mayor Mary-Ann Booth said that in her 10 years on council, Horseshoe Bay residents have often felt like they were living in the neglected neighbourhood of West Vancouver, and the LAP should restore some pride.

“We all heard it. The sidewalks were falling apart. The park hadn't been upgraded or maintained well enough,” she said. “It's a historic place that represents so much of the start of West Vancouver. … We do need to polish up this diamond and show it off, and I'm really proud of what we've been able to do in 10 years.”

Council has scheduled a public hearing for the plan for Tuesday, June 1 at 6 p.m. To participate by phone or Webex, phone the district's legislative services department at 604-925-7004 between 8 a.m. and the adjournment of the meeting on the scheduled meeting/hearing date to register to speak.