The District of West Vancouver has purchased one of two remaining privately owned waterfront homes in Ambleside – part of a decades-long plan to buy all of the land between Ambleside Park and John Lawson Park for public use.
Mayor Mark Sager announced at the outset of Monday’s meeting that the district had acquired 1448 Argyle Ave. from its longtime owner, self-made magnate Jimmy Pattison.
“I am delighted that we are that much closer to the completion of this waterfront park plan, something that has been welcomed and anticipated by the community and residents of West Vancouver for decades. I would also like to express my most sincere gratitude to my friend and longtime resident of West Vancouver, Jim Pattison, for helping to make this a reality,” Sager said in a release issued by the municipality during the council meeting.
The district agreed to pay Pattison $5.18 million for the 4,295-square-foot property. The Argyle lot was assessed in 2022 at $5.45 million.
The purchase was made possible by the sale of two district-owned lots on land that was once known as Brissenden Park in Upper Dundarave. Those two properties at 2523 and 2539 Rosebery Ave., sold for $2.59 million each. The buyer: Jim Pattison Industries Ltd.
The real estate deals are expected to close in August.
In an interview, Pattison said he has no plans for the Rosebery properties – and, in fact, he hasn’t even seen them.
“The answer is: I have no idea. I haven't looked at what the house looks like,” he said.
Told the two properties are mostly treed and undeveloped, Pattison was unfazed.
“That’s OK. If there’s trees, they’ll be fine,” he said. “I wanted to accommodate the municipality… They're doing the right thing, in my opinion.”
Pattison, 93, bought the Argyle property in about 1955, when he was still working as a salesman for a General Motors dealership in downtown Vancouver. When he decided to go into business for himself in 1961, he used his equity in the home to get his first $40,000 loan.
“The business did quite well when I got started so I never did have to sell the house,” he said.
When his father became ill, he moved his parents into the Argyle home, and eventually Pattison settled in the British Properties. In more recent years, Pattison has been using the home as a place to put up the captain of his yacht.
The new green space opened up on Argyle Avenue will be renamed Brissenden Waterfront Park to honour the family that donated the land later sold to finance the waterfront acquisition.
Pattison said he has very fond memories of his life on Argyle and he expects his old backyard to be well used and appreciated by the wider community.
“Some of the best years of my life, and I've had a lot of good ones, were in that house,” he said. “That'll certainly be positive for West Vancouver.”
Only one of 32 original privately owned properties remains, at 1444 Argyle Ave.
In his remarks to council, Sager said the district’s plans to purchase the waterfront weren’t always popular, dating back to his early days on council in the '90s, but he added it was the right thing to do.
“We wore a lot of scars because there were plenty of people in the community who thought we shouldn’t acquire those homes but I’m very, very happy that councils stood firm over all of the years and all the different people involved, and took every opportunity to acquire the homes,” he said.
Acquiring the last of the properties is one of the components of the 2016 Ambleside Waterfront Concept Plan, which seeks to revitalize the area.