Letter to Mayor re-Arts Centre Survey

Mary- Ann,

I listened to your comments at the July 26 Council Meeting and then read this open letter to you from CIVIX and was extremely disappointed and upset. I regret having to write to you on such a topic.

Your remarks on the subject of the Arts Centre on July 26 were disrespectful to the many residents who had taken the time to respond to the District of West Vancouver survey on desired location of an Arts Centre. Essentially you stated you were only interested in “ qualitative “ responses and not “quantitative” responses. This essentially ignores the many comments from residents included in the survey and the actual responses that showed clearly that many, many residents did not support placement of the proposed Arts Centre in Ambleside Park. I guess that whether a response to a survey is “ qualitative” depends on the views and biases of the individual making the judgement. You made your bias and position very clear. Regardless of public feedback ( which you asked for) the right locations were ,according to you, either of the locations in Ambleside Park.

It gets worse as highlighted in the open letter to you from Mr Jensen of CIVIX. This letter highlights clear evidence of a flawed survey ( Residents were not first asked whether they supported a new $38 million Arts Centre) and a  failure to report results correctly. This was followed by a refusal by staff to provide fair and accurate results when reasonably asked to do so. In fact it appears that more effort was expended by staff on arguing  why such a basic question ( how many West Vancouver Residents responding to the survey supported either of the locations in Ambleside Park) could not be answered than making an honest effort to answer the question. The actual results of the views of West Vancouver residents only came out due to Mr Jensen’s diligence in spending considerable time and effort to file a Freedom of Information request and analyzing the results.

It is now very clear that many outside of West Vancouver answered this survey which materially skewed the results. It appears that Arts Centre enthusiasts ( and perhaps others) encouraged this within their wider community. I trust and hope neither yourself nor any Councillors participated in this.

The unfortunate and even more significant result of this flawed survey,  is the increased cynicism of residents towards the accuracy of all surveys conducted by the District of West Vancouver. There appears to be no attempt to ensure results, when presented , reflect the views of West Vancouver residents only. With regards to the proposed site for a $38 million Arts Centre ( that residents have never been asked whether they want) this is particularly critical for a structure that would be built on West Vancouver owned land and West Vancouver residents would be paying for.

Given this embarrassing situation my request to you is :

A) Apologize to the community for this debacle.

B) Ensure all management and staff fully understand that their role should be to provide transparent and clear answers to all reasonable questions from the residents and taxpayers of West Vancouver. Staff and elected officials are accountable to their residents.

C) Review thoroughly the process around future surveys to ensure that questions are framed without bias and leave room for those opposed to express views and those views be given appropriate weight in all reports on results of surveys. Views of West Vancouver residents should also be the principal focus of such reports.

D) Ensure that all survey results ,as far as reasonably possible, ensure no one votes more than once and that they reflect views of West Vancouver residents separately from views of others.

E) Ensure that all Committees of Council, particularly those involved re communication and engagement, are represented by diverse residents of our community to avoid “ group think” and “ bias”.

F)  Finally a specific apology to Mr Jensen and CIVIX for their unnecessary time in pursuing this Freedom of Information request. The simple question he asked was fair, reasonable and easy for staff to answer from information they had to hand. He should not have been required to go through such a cumbersome process.

I look forward to your reply.

Regretfully submitted,

Graham McIsaac

2204 Bellevue Proposed 8++ Storeys

A letter to ADRA from a frustrated West Van resident – Don Smith

The site in question is an 8,000 sq. ft. duplex lot that is zoned RD1.  This zoning restricts the size of the building to a maximum of 4,000 sq. ft., a maximum height of 25 ft., and minimum setbacks from the front, back and side lot lines.

The proposed development – pictured here as it would face on to Bellevue Avenue – is nothing short of monstrous.  At 103 ft. in height, it is more than four times the height of the existing duplex and the existing permitted building height.  In fact, the proposed development adheres to none of the existing zoning requirements for the site.

The proposed building would contain seven full floor units, that can be expected to sell for $4 million to $5 million per unit, or possibly more.

2204 Bellevue is immediately across the street from our building, Bellevue Place, at 2203 Bellevue Avenue.  Bellevue Place is home to 55 families, most of whom will be impacted by the proposed building.  Many of us will be severely impacted, as the proposed building will be right in front of our south-facing living rooms.

Many of our neighbours will also be negatively impacted, including the 36 residents of 2187 Bellevue and the east-facing residents of 2222 Bellevue (the “Pink Palace”).

To date, the development application has received Council approval to proceed to public consultation (June 2020).  In lieu of public consultation and because of Covid-19, the developer hosted a website for two weeks (April 2021).  It is our understanding that the next step is for District staff to prepare a report for Council and recommend either that the application proceeds or be rejected.

In our opinion, it is imperative that the proposal be rejected.

In particular:

  • It is inappropriate to consider any form of redevelopment of this lot (other than within the existing RD1 duplex zoning) until the Ambleside Town Centre Local Area Plan is completed and adopted.  Spot zoning in the middle of an established neighbourhood in advance of the Ambleside LAP makes no sense.
  • There is no support for this development in the neighbourhood.  To the best of our knowledge, everyone in the immediate neighbourhood is opposed to this development.
  • The developer is marketing this building on the basis of it being built of mass timber and being state-of-the-art in terms of environmental performance.  However, this “greenwashing” should in no way be an excuse for a building that is grossly oversized for the lot and completely out of character for the neighbourhood.
  • There are no other buildings in the surrounding neighbourhood that are this high on such a small lot.  The surrounding neighbourhood is primarily taller buildings on large lots and 2- or 3-storey buildings on smaller lots.

We and all of the residents in our immediate neighbourhood would appreciate ADRA’s support in opposing this proposal. 

We do not believe that there are many other West Vancouver residents who would tolerate having a 103 ft. high “monster home” built right in front of their home on a site currently zoned for a maximum height of 25 ft.

Proposed 8 Storeys (103 ft) at 2204 Bellevue

2204 Bellevue Avenue Proposal

The District has received a rezoning and development permit application for the development of an eight-storey apartment building comprising seven units at the property 2204 Bellevue Avenue/177 22nd Street.

The applicant is hosting a virtual public consultation on the applicants website.   (https://www.bellevueand22nd.com/) The website includes a comment form that will be open from Thursday, April 15 to Thursday, April 29, 2021. Note: This is not a District consultation, it is an applicant-sponsored meeting.

Development Plans Part 1                        Development Plans Part 2

The proposal was reviewed and supported by the Design Review Committee on March 11, 2021. Minutes of the meeting will be posted once approved by the Design Review Committee.            Design Review Committee

Arts Centre – SIte Survey – ADRA Comment

westvancouverite have a survey to ask where residents would prefer the proposed new Arts Centre to be located. Unfortunately the survey would fail Stats-101 because it does not permit the respondent to say “We Can’t Afford a $38 Million Arts Centre ANYWHERE!”.

Our board member, Graham McIsaac felt exactly that way – and this is his survey response:

Which location do you prefer for a future Arts & Culture Centre? 
I do not like either option
Please briefly explain why you chose this response for question 1.
I do not support building an Arts Centre that will cost $38 million + and I do not agree with building in Ambleside Park. A 21,000 sq foot building surely is more than needed. We should be asking residents whether they actually want an Arts Centre prior to asking them where it should be located!!!
Do you have any comments related to site selection for West Vancouver’s Arts & Culture Centre?
Building in Ambleside Park and near the waterfront makes no sense ( just the cost re flood protection) – traffic in and out of the park make this area busy already.

Arts Centre – Unpopular White Elephant

This Blog is written by ADRA Board member Graham McIsaac
I have a number of problems with this proposal that I am sure will be obvious to you.
A) By allowing the significant added density here tax payers are essentially paying for the Arts Centre through foregone CAC’s. So there can be zero argument that this would be built at no cost to the taxpayer.
B) The rezoning of this site would again be spot zoning without a local area plan for Ambleside in place.
C) ADRA did a survey of members to determine support for an Arts Centre- ADRA members overwhelmingly were not in favour- what survey’s have the district conducted to determine support for an Arts Centre? I believe they did a survey ( like the Cannabis one) asking where residents would like an Arts Centre to go – Not whether residents wanted an Arts Centre!!
D) If an Arts Centre is to be built it should be with private donations and not taxpayer money- operating costs also a concern. I believe Whistler and North Vancouver need considerable tax payer subsidy?
E) If to be built with taxpayer money I believe some referendum should be required to approve.
F) With an Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver, North Vancouver and Whistler does West Vancouver really need one as well??

Graham McIsaac

Newsletter – February 2021

Dear ADRA Member,

In the best interests of your time, we are sending Part 1 of our February newsletter as there are two, time sensitive items which require your action.  One relates to the 2021 Budget and the other to a potential rezoning at 1763 Bellevue, outside of the Ambleside Town Centre Local Area Plan. 

ACTION ITEM:  2021 PROPOSED BUDGET:  Do You Support a 5.2% Increase?

The Budget will be coming to Council for consideration on MONDAY, MARCH 8TH.  If you have not done so, there is still time to make your views known to Mayor and Council either by email or phone calls.  ADRA sent a detailed letter on the budget on February 4th. 

Our main concern is the economic reality that faces the taxpayer, i.e. YOU!  Is this a time when the Municipal Budget should be expanding beyond inflation, that we should be adding staff (the major portion of DWV budget), that we should be moving ahead with any new projects, i.e. Arts Centre.

In these difficult and challenging times, we do not consider a 5.2% increase appropriate.  
This is a time to focus on core services delivery and essentials.  Not a time to be pursuing major NEW strategic objectives.

Please read  the letter (on the right-side-panel) from ADRA to Mayor and Council for full details.

Email /Call to Mayor & Council

mayorandcouncil@westvancouver.ca
Councillor Craig Cameron  ccameron@westvancouver.ca      604-828-0805
Councillor Nora Gambioli   ngambioli@westvancouver.ca       604-653-8823
Councillor Peter Lambur    plambur@westvancouver.ca       604-644-1769
Councillor Bill Soprovich   bsoprovich@westvancouver.ca   604-561-3219
Councillor Sharon Thompson    sthompson@westvanouver.ca       604-209-4621
Councillor Marcus Wong     mwong@westvancouver.ca        604-219-0064
Mayor Mary-Ann Booth     mbooth@westvancouver.ca       604-925-7000

ACTION ITEM:  MASONIC HALL SITE – 1763 Bellevue Avenue

This item will be coming to Council on MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22ND.  
Council has the option of letting it proceed to a preliminary development proposal now OR to not consider rezoning 1763 Bellevue until the completion of the Ambleside Town Centre Local Area Plan.  ADRA Directors DO NOT SUPPORT REZONING NOW BUT TO WAIT UNTIL THE COMPLETION OF THE AMBLESIDE TOWN CENTRE LOCAL AREA PLAN.

https://westvancouver.ca/home-building-property/planning/major-applications/masonic-hall-1763-bellevue-avenue

Email/call to Mayor and Council  (addresses above) 

Why should this project be allowed to proceed ahead of the Local Area Plan (LAP) yet to be developed for Ambleside?  There is no significant community benefit to warrant this step.  It would set a precedent for development in this area ahead of the LAP.  
 Staff have concerns with the density, building width, parking functionality, number and size of rental units and the potential inclusion of community facility space.

ACTION ITEM:  HORSESHOE BAY LOCAL AREA PLAN – February 26 Deadline

This is an opportunity to provide your input into the proposed plan for Horseshoe Bay Village, to add density, housing and retail space.  What is your vision for this unique community in West Vancouver?  
https://www.westvancouverite.ca/plan-hsb

http://adrawestvan.ca

Budget 2021 – Letter to Mayor and Council

Dear Madam Mayor and Council,

Re Budget 2021

Thank you to you and your fellow Councillors for your efforts on behalf of us all over the last year which has been difficult and challenging.

This next year for many Residents will be a challenging one from both a health and financial perspective. Vaccines will hopefully bring an end to the health part of this crisis by the end of this year. The economic consequences will likely be felt for years to come.

Many in the private sector have been laid off or are working reduced hours and have had their pay frozen or reduced. Many small businesses are struggling or have had to close down at great personal cost to owners and employees alike.  Many seniors are on fixed incomes and with record low interest rates have seen their income decline or had to take additional risk to their capital to preserve income.

It is in this context that I write to you with regard to the Budget 2021. I attended the Budget Presentation on January 28 and have had a short time since to review some of the details. I am sure you will all agree that given an inflation rate of around 1% a 5.2% increase in property taxes proposed by staff seems to be unreasonable. For many years now property taxes have increased well above the rate of inflation. The Public sector cannot just continue to download increasing costs through increased taxes to Residents and Businesses. They need to seriously evaluate how to reduce these costs and the burden on taxpayers.

Mr McIsaac on behalf of ADRA has forwarded a list of questions related to 2020 Budget that are relevant today and remain unanswered and questions in respect of the 2021 Budget. In a phone call on Friday January 28 Mr Bartlett, CAO undertook to provide a speedy response to these questions.

In addition to the concern about the 5.2% proposed property tax increase (and this does not include any increases re Translink, School Taxes and Utilities usage).  ADRA has the following concerns:

  1. Costs are proposed to increase 6.3% or $6.3 million. $1.4 million of this relates to adding 13 new full time staff. Surely we should be freezing recruitment, reallocating staff from under resourced areas to where more staff are required. In addition we should be at least freezing salaries for non-union staff and management.
  2. Revenues include a $4 million of a one-time $5 million Grant from the Province of BC related to COVID Safe Restart. $4 million has also been added to expenses. The BC Government provided guidance to CAO’s as to what is considered as eligible costs under the program and the money can be used in 2020, 2021 or 2022.
  3. Addressing revenues shortfalls
  4. Facility reopening and operating costs
  5. Emergency planning and response costs
  6. By-law enforcement and protective services like fire and police
  7. Computer and other electronic technology costs (to improve interconnectivity and virtual communications
  8. Services for vulnerable persons
  9. Other related costs

Of the $4 million only $1.8 million of the proposed spending clearly relates to COVID restart. $3.2 million less so. 8 additional staff are added as well and costs included.

 $1.7 million is related to Support for Strategic Objectives and it is particularly hard to see how any of this relates to COVID Safe Restart in any way. Much of it is for Consulting for things such as Environmental Strategy Update, Transportation Consultant Service, Strategic Transportation Plan, Public education events re Climate Change, Ambleside Town Centre Planning etc.

Particularly egregious is $312,000 re planning for a yet to be approved Arts Centre.

None of the $1.7 million seem to be eligible and certainly do not seem to be being spent under the spirit of the intent the BC Government gave the Grant to Cities and Municipalities.

Also allowed is using Grant Funds to replenish any statutory reserve funds. Our understanding is that $8 million was borrowed last year from the Endowment Fund. Much of these funds instead of being spent as outlined above could be used to repay the money borrowed in 2020. This would have reduced expenses and the increased property taxes proposed.

  • In the General Fund summary it is proposed that $2.9 million from projected land sales are including in Operating Revenue. We would suggest that this is highly inappropriate and that such funds be allocated to the Endowment Fund or the Asset Reserve fund for deferred maintenance of Municipal Assets.

In closing the above are issues that stand out to us from a very preliminary review of the proposed Budget 2021 and we would hope, as you consider the Budget, you will take into account the comments above.

In these difficult and challenging times we do not consider a 5.2% appropriate- this is a time to focus on core services delivery and essentials and not to be pursuing major new objectives.

Sincerely

Heather Mersey,

President , ADRA

Newsletter January 2021

Dear ADRA Members,

Heather Mersey
President

With a new year upon us, your ADRA directors have jumped right back into community involvement mode! On January 6th, a special meeting was held to discuss the Inglewood Campus of Care proposal: to identify positive points and major concerns. On January 13th, we held our first board meeting of the year with a very full agenda. The date for our Annual General meeting has been set for WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10 at 7 p.m. More details will follow.

Foremost on our minds is the 2021 District Budget process. Public consultation will commence at the end of January in the form of two information meetings and an online comment form.


As you may recall the initial increase proposed for 2020 was 6%, well beyond the inflation rate and not reflective of the economic and health crisis caused by COVID 19. . Through the combined efforts of ADRA, other community groups and residents, the increase was reduced to 2%. You can appreciate why your involvement is so important.


ADRA directors will be reviewing the budget material along with the revised Strategic Plan and reporting back to members. We urge you to register for one of these public (virtual) information sessions to gain your own perspective on proposed Municipal spending for 2021.

Thursday, January 28 from 6–7 p.m.
Friday, January 29 from 1–2 p.m.

FULL DETAILS ON REGISTRATION, ETC. ARE AVAILABLE AT the westvancouverite site:
REGISTER HERE: https://www.westvancouverite.ca/budget

An online comment form will also be available from Tuesday, January 26 to Tuesday, February 9.

The next ADRA newsletter will include details on:

ADRA AGM Wednesday, February 10 at 7 pm (via Zoom – passcode will be emailed on the day)

AND information on the following ongoing projects:-
* Navvy Jack Park
* Inglewood Campus of Care Update
* WV Community Stakeholder ‘Vision’ Survey
* ADRA Community Outreach

In the meantime, please consider renewing your ADRA membership for 2021.

The fee is $10.00 and includes a couple at the same e-mail address. You may send a cheque to:
ADRA
2336 Marine Dr.
West Vancouver V7V1K8

OR – See the website – and send a bank transfer to: rb866@telus.net

Newsletter – November 2020

Dear ADRA member
Here is an update of what’s been happening in our seaside villages over the past few weeks.  A separate email will be following shortly regarding the Klee Wyck property.  This item is on the Council agenda for December 7th so please watch for this important update!


ARTS CENTRE SURVEY/SUMMARY OF RESULTS
ADRA members recently completed a survey on the proposed Arts Centre, the top project identified by Council as part of their 2020/2021 Strategic Plan.A summary of the results showed a general reluctance to the notion that the DWV should undertake major projects with significant financial implications in 2021 and in particular, that an Arts Centre should not comprise a major project in the coming year.  A copy of the results have been sent to Mayor and Council asking if the Strategic Plan will be revised given the current COVID economic and health crisis.   A complete analysis of the survey is available at:   ADRAwestvan.ca


AMBLESIDE STREETSCAPES
Construction work continues at the 14th Street and Marine Drive Intersection.  Work continues as part of a plan approved by Council in 2013.  Creation of bumpouts and repaving on the south side are funded through development.  Reconstruction work on the north side is funded by Translink as Marine Drive is a designated corridor in the Major Road Network.  More details are available:westvancouver.ca/transporation-roads/major-projects/ambleside-projects


DUNDARAVE/ PALM TREES 
Seven palm trees have been recently planted in Dundarave Park.  These trees were donated to West Vancouver by Earls restaurant. Dundarave Park, already home to palm trees, was chosen as the new location for these mature palm trees.   The new trees provide shade for beach users, and there are plans to include dune grass, driftwood logs, and additional benches in the area. Staff have undertaken the installation within available resources. 


DUNDARAVE/TEMPORARY ROAD CLOSURES
Council approved a temporary Pilot Program to allow businesses to apply online for an extension of outdoor space  through to October 3, 2021.  The District is working closely with the ADBIA and local businesses to support them in this uncertain economic environment, while helping them to adhere to the health and safety requirements of the Provincial Health Officer.  Council welcomes feedback from the community. https://westvancouver.ca/economy/covid-19-business/temp-outdoor 

FILMING IN DUNDARAVE AND JOHN LAWSON PARK   
Netflix feature will be filmed in the playground of John Lawson Park on Monday, November 30 and Tuesday, December 1. The playground will be closed.  As a thank you from the production, look for additional picnic benches in the spring. Please expect intermittent pedestrian and traffic delays in Dundarave on Wednesday, December 2. https://westvancouver.ca/news/filming-dundarave-and-john-lawson-park

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