LAUTENS: Park Royal is talking about adding storeys to its towers

As even an apprentice like my dewy young self knows, in the news business it’s the backstory and the folo that can intrigue the most.

The folo – newsroom jargon, or just misspelling? – is that Park Royal is testing community enthusiasm for PR adding five more storeys to each of the 11- and 14-storey towers under construction at Marine Drive and Taylor Way.

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No application to town hall at this writing. But Rick Amantea, Park Royal vice-president of community partnerships and development, has been doing the diplomatic rounds and confirms as much in an email: “We have discussed some ideas with community members for discussion purposes only.” 

Yes, only 11 months (and one election and a new mayor) after a bitter rezoning battle that split council, the hyper-growth shopping centre giant that already towers over West Vancouver retail business wants even more.

Agent T9s3wK, a businessman with impressive experience dealing with town hall, says that the total of 10 more storeys would add 99 residential units to the 200-odd approved in a 4-3 council decision last May. Sweeteners include $6 million in community amenity contributions (CACs), including an art facility – the campaign for a free-standing art gallery on the John Lawson parking lot apparently having died a much-merited death. Sweeteners indeed.

Notable among those Amantea has invited to a briefing (good, shrewd idea, I’d say) are Ambleside and Dundarave Ratepayers’ Association representatives – who, even more notably, include new executive members Nigel Malkin and former councillor Christine Cassidy.

An ironic coda to that 4-3 decision giving Park Royal the go-ahead last May: Cassidy was one of the three dissenters. Must have been a fascinating meeting in Amantea’s office.

Malkin is impressed that Park Royal is “reaching out to groups in the community for support … and I feel that this project will go ahead regardless of a fight. PR are very powerful, I am confident that there are at least four on council that support the 99 rental units, and they are already spending money to put in more steel in the ground for the extra floors” – which Amantea didn’t confirm.

  • • •

Now for the promised backstory: It’s long been a custom – but not, it turns out, obligatory under West Van bylaw or regulation – for those in the public gallery speaking to council to state their name and address.

That custom jokelessly ended on April 1, when Mayor Mary-Ann Booth announced that council could only request, but had no means of compelling, provision of addresses. Giving addresses “exposed personal information” – which clearly had never occurred to decades of dim mayors and councillors. And now this: “Staff had received complaints … regarding harassment (in-person or online)” after stating this “personal information.”   

Remarkable coincidence: B-Line opponents have more than mere suspicions that pro-B-Line ranks are swelled by non-citizens of West Van – such as members of Forces of Nature, an environmental, transit-promoting and anti-car organization headquartered in Vancouver.

Keeping their addresses unstated just happens to disguise that non-citizens with no skin in the game or WV taxes to pay have actively sought to de-level the playing field and distort WV’s for-and-against B-Line sentiments.

• • •

Did Coun. Nora Gambioli really, really say this? West Vancouver “will have to decide between public transit and single-occupancy vehicles. We can’t have both.” Guess those drivers will have to be sent to re-education camps.

 • • •

If Nigel Malkin has been given much ink here, it’s not for lack of invitation to prominent pro-B-Line people. I’ve made friendly contact with a very engaging leader, Peter Scholefield – Esquimalt Street, if there’s any doubt of residence – a retired RCAF meteorologist who had postings in Geneva and with NATO in Germany for eight and seven years, respectively. He didn’t respond to an offer of a longer interview.

As for North Vancouver-Lonsdale New Democrat MLA Bowinn Ma, whose name has popped up: Try emailing her constituency office. An audience with the Pope would have fewer stipulations.

 • • •

At Monday’s council meeting prominent citizen Carolanne Reynolds warmly thanked council and staff “for what you’ve gone through in the last few months … you’ve been very brave, very bold.” Just noted.

Also noted: When at one point a murmur of skepticism rippled through the public gallery, Mayor Booth repeated her now-patented declaration to be “friendly and respectful,” followed by her equally patented threat that otherwise she’d call a recess. Blinding smile, though.

• • •

Hilary Clark, who as teacher, opera critic, writer and other accomplishments in the arts, rarely undertakes the daunting battle to improve my lamentable taste. But fortunately she steered me to Elspeth Bradbury’s current art show at West Van’s Ferry Building Gallery.

Bradbury has solid credits in architecture, writing and gardening as well as art, and holds a Heritage Achievement Award. Her technique is outstanding, her juxtaposition (I guess you’d call it) of nature with surrealistic and sometimes mischievous settings (there, maybe I’m getting the feel of art criticism!) richly repays a visit. Just go. Fast. Closes Monday.

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