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West Vancouver mulls sale of donated residential lots

The District of West Vancouver may soon be selling off a piece of land bequeathed to it for park use to help fund its Ambleside vision.
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The District of West Vancouver may soon be selling off a piece of land bequeathed to it for park use to help fund its Ambleside vision.

Following a vote by district council on Monday night, public consultations are now starting on whether the district should sell or lease the two lots known as Brissenden Park at 2519 and 2539 Rosebery Ave. to fund the purchase of the last two waterfront homes in Ambleside, something the district has been working on for decades.

The Brissenden family donated their two lots to the district in 1990 with the stipulation that the 2.4 acres be used and maintained for public park use. But the land has never been used as a park and it has never received park designation.

Today, the Brissenden residence, a 1948 example of early West Coast Modernism, still stands and is lived in by a caretaker. The property has no amenities, no parking and no close access to transit, while the plan to revamp the entire Ambleside waterfront is now forging ahead, a district staff report notes.

And unlike the current Brissenden property, which has no official marker indicating that it was a gift to the people of West Vancouver, council would rename a portion of the Ambleside land Brissenden Park as a tribute to its benefactors.

If council chooses to go ahead with the sale, the district will apply to the courts to have the legal covenant on the property altered to allow the sale.

Together, the last two waterfront properties – at 1444 and 1448 Argyle Ave. – are worth about $10 million. A survey conducted by the district in 2007 found residents would prefer the municipality sell off unused assets rather than raise taxes or take on more debt to purchase the land. The two Brissenden lots were last assessed at about $5.5 million each.

The lots are zoned for single-family homes and could also include coach houses, according to staff. Anything else would require a typical rezoning process, and the heavily treed lots would be protected by the district’s interim tree bylaw, which restricts cutting.

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