On Aug. 22, it’ll be the most fun you can (legally) have on Lonsdale.
City of North Vancouver council voted Monday night to revive the Car Free Day street festival in Lower Lonsdale and add to it a 1,000-foot water slide running all the way from Keith Road to Third Street.
If the plan comes to fruition, city staff will block off the intersections below Keith Road and redirect traffic and buses for the day-long festival, while Utah-based for-profit company Slide the City operates the slide.
Council largely gushed at the plan – particularly over the water slide.
“This is an opportunity for us to have an event that puts the City of North Vancouver on the map as being someplace that’s fun to be and come and hang out,” said Coun. Linda Buchanan, who added that not only were her kids excited to hit the water slide, but so was she.
Mayor Darrell Mussatto characterized the plan as a “21st century soap box derby.”
“I think we used to have soap boxes down Lonsdale at one point in time and this is going to sort of kick it up a notch,” he said.
Mussatto said he’d work on his courage about heading down the slide himself.
The slide won’t be free. If the company uses the same price structure it has in other cities, a single slide starts at $15 if you pre-purchase your tickets. Participants must be at least five years old and 117 centimetres tall.
The estimated 45,000 to 75,000 litres of water needed to run the slide can either be flushed right into storm drains, collected and taken for treatment or used to water city greenspace. The company also donates a portion of its profits to dig wells in underdeveloped countries and will kick in an extra $7,000 to $10,000 in donations to the Canadian Cancer Society, according to a city staff report.
For its part, the city was willing to put up $2,500 for extra policing costs.
Car Free Day festivals typically see merchants and food vendors opening stalls on the street, along with live music stages, kids’ games, sports and hobby demonstrations, performance art, informational booths from community groups and glad-handing politicians.
Under the North Vancouver plan, Esplanade and Third Street will remain traffic controlled intersections throughout the day.
Last year’s events on Vancouver’s Main Street, Fourth Avenue, Denman Street and Commercial Drive drew about 250,000 people, according to Matt Carrico, a representative of the Vancouver Car Free Society, which pledged its support for the event.
Coun. Pam Bookham worried the city was jumping the gun by not adequately consulting business owners who may have legitimate concerns about the street closures. Coun. Holly Back, however, countered that business stood to win big on the dual event.
“Being in small business myself, this is only a plus. It’s a bit of a no-brainer. ‘No please, don’t bring 20,000 people to my front door,’ like, are we kidding? I think it’s amazing and it’s a very, very exciting thing to have come to North Vancouver,” she said.
Coun. Rod Clark took exception to the fact that the Lower Lonsdale Business Association, which has received grants from the city in previous unsuccessful attempts to form a Business Improvement Area, would be a partner in the project. During the 2014 election campaign, the business association donated to council candidates Iani Makris and George Pringle.
“My understanding is there’s no city-funded agency that does that,” he said. “The fact the Lower Lonsdale Business Association decided to take a political edge is a problem for me. I will question every nickel that the taxpayer funds them, for whatever reason.”
Later in the meeting, Clark put forward a motion for council to ask the business group to provide its policy on funding municipal candidates in elections. It went down to defeat with Mussatto, Back, Mussatto and Coun. Craig Keating voting against it.
The vote to welcome Car Free Day and Slide the City passed 7-0.
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