This letter was written by an ADRA member, Judy Chalmers, – to Christie Rosta, Manager of Cultural Services, (et al)
To: -Christie Rosta, Manager of Cultural Service, AFAC Staff Liaison for AFAC members
AFAC Council Representative -Donna Powers, Director of Communications -Mayor and Council
As a member of the public I attended the March 16 Arts Facility Advisory Committee ( AFAC ) meeting. Thank you to Councillor Lambur and Councillor Thompson for also attending. I now have a number of comments, concerns, and questions about the Arts and Culture Centre that I am hoping you will answer/address.
From the very beginning the community was told that in order to develop detailed plans, cost projections, raise funds from the private sector or other levels of government, a site must be selected. The site selection survey last year was determined to be inconclusive.
Now it appears that a governance model and funding plan can be done WITHOUT a site. Christie Rosta, Manager of Cultural Services, in a reply to a letter in correspondence to Mayor and Council wrote , …”explore potential models that would work for the kind of facilities needed in West Vancouver. To do this work, we do not necessarily require a confirmed location which is why the next phase of work is not visiting site selection or confirmation.” It concerns me that this turn-around is confusing the issue of site selection for the community.
It also seems to be confusing the issue of what the additional community consultation this year will be going forward.
*Q1- Is exploring potential models for governance and fundraising ( scenarios ?) for an undetermined site (s) vs. a specific site, an effective and productive use of time and money?
Mayor Booth stated at that meeting – #1 that it would be on District owned land, and – #2 , that it would not be Klee Wyck, commenting regarding Klee Wyck ‘to put an end to it right now ‘.
But in my email correspondence last year with Donna Powers, Director of Communications, after the results of the site selection survey, she wrote to me “ options that were ruled out in the former process could potentially be reviewed again.” Further saying , “For example, the solution of two smaller facilities was not pursued for various reasons. The reasoning behind decisions made along the way will be reviewed and the community will be able to weigh in on those decisions and share their priorities.” These comments were in reference to further community engagement.
My concern is that these statements from Mayor Booth and Donna Powers come across as contradictory.
Christie Rosta has also written that, “once the work outlined in the current ToR is completed, we ( or the next iteration of the AFAC ) can return to site selection and the process to determine that, as directed by Council.”
It concerns me that Mayor Booth is giving direction to the AFAC when it is not direction coming from Council.
*Q2- What is your understanding on the status of site selection ?
*Q3- Will the community have the opportunity during the next round of community engagement to again voice their preferences on a site(s) for an Arts and Culture Centre?
*Q4- Will other site options besides the two at Ambleside Park be offered to the community?
*Q5- If site selection and the process to determine that is not in the current ToR, what will community engagement entail later this year?
One of the scenarios that Mayor Booth spoke about was the potential to co-locate a hotel and Arts Facility , or Arts Hub as she now called it, as opportunities for capital funding. She said the feasibility of it had been discussed with Michael Geller, Gary Matheson, and Min Kim ( apologies on spelling) who I thought she said were part of her Mayor’s Task Force. She also said she had spoken with Larco , and that they would be happy to build it!
She was asked by a member of the public if she could see it being built at Ambleside Park and her answer was ‘yes’.
Since the Mayor stated at the AFAC meeting that the Arts and Culture Centre would be built on District owned lands:
*Q6- How would that work? Does the District go into the hotel business?
*Q7- Does the community in essence give up public and/or park land for a private business to build and operate a hotel?
*Q8- If the community engagement for the site selection survey was inconclusive for the two sites at Ambleside Park, do you believe the community would embrace a hotel also being built there? The height and density for a co-location would most likely not be 2 storeys!
*Q9- What other District owned sites would now be considered for a co-location option?
The ToR was approved by Council for an Arts Facility, not a co-location with a boutique hotel.
*Q10- Does researching best practises in capital fundraising for an Arts and Culture facility, as stated in the ToR, also include a business model for a boutique hotel combined with an Arts and Culture Centre?
Mayor Booth also commented that there was lots of community support for a hotel from the survey done by the ADBIA. The results of the Imagine Ambleside survey to the question of ‘ would you like to see a boutique hotel in Ambleside? ‘ was Yes 55%, Neutral 21%,and No 24%. 55% is not really overwhelming support. And the question did not ask if anyone wanted to see a boutique hotel in Ambleside ‘Park’.
The respondent demographics for this survey were 62% West Vancouver neighbourhoods, 14% North Vancouver, and 24% Other.
*Q11- of the 55% Yes votes, what percentage of those were from West Vancouver?
The results of a poll (survey) by Angus Reid ( during the Park Royal additional floors) were not accepted by the District. As it was a survey done by a 3rd party, the District said 3rd party surveys would never be accepted because unless it was a survey done by the District the results could not be verified.
*Q12- Should the results of the survey done by the ADBIA be accepted by the District if it is a 3rd party survey?
AFAC 2022 WORK PLAN:
The AFAC 2022 Work Plan is being presented to Council on March 29. Part of the work plan is ‘Facility concept / vision planning and engagement with community art groups’
*Q13- Has this not already been done?
On westvancouverite it states: “ After rigorous data collection, analysis, and forecasting, consultation with local stakeholders, community groups and business leaders and careful consideration of local aspirations as express in the Official Community Plan and Economic Development Plan, the findings revealed that West Vancouver requires a new building of approximately 25,000 square feet to replace its unsuitable facilities and to meet future demands.”
There has been a tremendous amount of work done in this area included in the 2018 Arts and Culture Strategy, the 2019 Arts and Culture Facilities Plan, and the 2020 Arts Facilities Site Identification Analysis. From a statement made last year on social media, by the previous AFAC co-chair, it is apparent that stakeholder groups have in fact given their vision. She wrote, “ It’s stated in Core Principals developed to inform the 2019 Arts Facility Site Identification Analysis that any new build would need to ‘ be able to provide ample, high-quality public space that complements existing public space.’ This means that exactly the same, the kind of outdoor activities ( festivals, concerts, painting classes etc ) now taking place in/through/from old, rundown facilities like the Silk Purse and Music Box would be accommodated in any new build. More than 80 stakeholders ( users, instructors, administrators, practitioners, audiences ) participated in the 2018 Arts Facilities Needs Assessment, and we heard from them loud and clear that they appreciate the proximity to the beach and the park, and want that experience replicated in a new build. “
The Work Plan shows that community engagement will take place during June, July, August, and September. I have, previously in this letter, asked many questions as to what this community engagement will entail. I am also concerned that this engagement will take place during July and August, two summer months when many in the community could be away.
*Q14- Will Council consider changing this so that community engagement does not take place during July and August?
The Work Plan shows that the AFAC will report back to Council in September with an Engagement Summary / Update Report, but according to the Work Plan community engagement will still be taking place in September.
*Q15- How will the AFAC report to Council give an accurate accounting on the community engagement?
I have been closely following the AFAC since Cornerstone Consultants began exploring potential public District owned sites, and private sites. I am unsure now, and with some confusion, where the AFAC is headed.
Thank you for your time, and thank you in advance for answering my questions and concerns in a timely manner.
Resident of West Vancouver