Maybe you appreciated his vision and maybe you thought his vision was abysmal, but departing City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto was a civic visionary, regardless.
Big buildings and bicycle lanes. A bronze camel and a bowling alley. Coach houses and the Shipyards. Density Darrell.
Mussatto helped transform Lower Lonsdale from a sleepy sector dotted with pawn shops into a thriving business district.
If ample parking is the hallmark of a great city, Mussatto’s reign is a failure. But if TransLink ever lurches out of first gear and provides the transit service we need this city will become a landmark for environmental sustainability.
Critics point to daily gridlock and overwhelmed infrastructure as telltale signs of over-development. But North Vancouver’s population was always going to increase. The real choice was between urban sprawl and spikes of density. That preference for density led to ethical questions, as Mussatto sometimes judged proposals from the very developers who helped fund his election campaign. Mussatto spent $99,000 on his campaign in 2014, representing the North Shore’s (hopefully bygone) Wild West days of election finance.
Mussatto could be temperamental. Extremely averse to amalgamation, he once chastised the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce president and equated a call for a restructuring study with personal disrespect.
But his sometimes unreasonable expectations seemed to energize the city. West Vancouver’s effort to rejuvenate their waterfront dates back to the era of polyester suits. The city’s Shipyards project is set to be complete in 2019.
We hope the next mayor will be even-handed and clear eyed. We also hope that mayor won’t just see what the city is, but what it could be.
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