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Former West Vancouver parkland hits the market for $9 million

Selling the undeveloped park land to buy more Ambleside waterfront for community use was controversial.
West Vancouver resident Paul Hundal examines a large tree in Brissenden Park in November 2018. | Mike Wakefield, North Shore News files

Two years after a B.C. Supreme Court approved the sale of donated West Vancouver parkland, the lots are hitting the market for just under $9 million.

The District of West Vancouver is now taking bids on the properties at 2517, 2523 and 2539 Rosebery Ave. Two of the three properties in upper Dundarave will have a minimum price of $2.85 million. The easternmost and largest one, along 25th Street, has a minimum offer of $2.9 million.

Any money raised from the sale of the lots must be put toward the purchase of 1444 and 1448 Argyle Ave. – the last two privately held lots on the waterfront in Ambleside, which the district has been trying to acquire since the 1970s.

The Rosebery land has a complex legal history. In the late 1980s, the district agreed to Pearley and Norine Brissenden’s request to leave their large and mostly treed property to the municipality in their wills on the promise it would be “used and maintained for public park use.”
But the district never followed through on the terms of the bequest, and instead the Brissendens’ home was rented out.

When the Attorney General of B.C. opposed the district’s request to vary the terms of the Brissendens’ trust to sell the land in 2018, the district modified their plans and developed the northern portion of the property into a new Brissenden Park, with a walking trail.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge found varying the trust would not be in keeping with the Brissendens’ specific wishes, but it could be allowed under the Community Charter as the new parkland in Ambleside would be more broadly in the interest of the community.

Under the court’s ruling, the waterfront lots must be renamed Brissenden Waterfront Park and kept as greenspace.

Under the zoning, each of the Rosebery lots will allow for a single-family home in keeping with the rest of the neighbourhood, although no trees can be removed from the northern 10 feet of each lot, to act as a buffer from the remaining Brissenden Park.

Because the land is municipally owned, any potential buyer with a relationship with any district employee or elected official must declare that or any other conflict of interest at the time they submit their bid.

The district will keep the properties on the market until June 6.

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