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Plans for the revitalization of West Vancouver's Ambleside revealed

Staff has brought forward three distinct options to be considered for the upgrading of the West Vancouver neighbourhood.
Ambleside is soon to be subject to an upgrade. | Getty Images Lijaun Guo Photography

West Vancouver’s Ambleside is soon to be the subject of an upgrade.

On Monday evening, council members were presented with three framework options for change in the area. Once adopted by council, the local area plan will become part of the municipality's official community plan.

Each option brought forth by senior manager of community planning David Hawkins factors in the area’s natural setting, how people use the area, Ambleside's neighbourhood feel, accommodation for current and future residents, its commercial hub, and the scale of the new development.

Option 1, regarded as a "compact approach" option, would see new development concentrated within the small rectangular boundaries of 13th Street, 19th Street and Fulton Avenue. It would frame and accent the centre by putting mid-rise, mixed-use buildings as far north as Clyde Avenue between 14th and 17th Streets.

The shorter Marine Drive "high street" would be flanked on either side by the likes of hotels, offices, rentals and seniors housing. Within the reduced rectangle, density of rental could be increased gradually over time, while townhouses would transition outwards from existing commercial and apartment areas to Fulton and 19th - completing the "rectangle," Hawkins described.

The second option lets nature drive the planning decisions, Hawkins said, factoring in the area’s sloping topography and the nearby creeks that run down to the ocean.

Building scale would reflect the natural contours with mid-rise buildings transitioning to townhouses moving up the slope, with townhouses along McDonald, Lawson and Vinson creeks opening up public access to the waterways. For the commercial core, mid-rise, mixed-use buildings between Bellevue and Clyde avenues would emphasize daylighted creek crossings, frame new public spaces, and mark the arrival to Ambleside’s shopping area at the 1400 and 1800 blocks of Marine.

The third option adopts a transitions approach, where development would be blended in and building heights would vary to create a more "modulated skyline" on Marine Drive, Hawkins said. If the high street isn’t shortened as put forward in Option 1, Option 3 allows for more room to play around with the street’s focal areas, and heightened sections of retail activity can be added.

Apartment infill within the existing high-rise area would be allowed on existing duplex-zoned sites and existing rental sites with underutilized site area, while existing age-restricted lots would be supported with additional density to enable the gradual increase of housing for seniors.

Hawkins said the offering of the three options is to “allow the community to engage” and change or improve any aspects of the options should they wish to do so.

West Vancouver Mayor Mark Sager echoed the statement, adding how there is “nothing set in stone” in regards to the three potential plans.

“We are completely, staff and council, open to all creative ideas,” he said.

Coun. Nora Gambioli said seeing the three options was like seeing the beginning of the end of decades of studies.

“The three concepts are really, really amazing,” she said.

Council voted unanimously to begin public consultations on the three options and seek feedback in stakeholder workshops with the Ambleside and Dundarave Business Improvement Association and the Ambleside Dundarave Residents Association, which will take place in February and March. Virtual and in-person workshops will be held with the general public in April and May.

Once the engagement is completed staff will review and analyze all the public input in June, before presenting the draft local area plan to council for a vote in July.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.