15 Questions for DWV Re-Arts Centre

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?


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.

Respectfully submitted,

Judy Chalmers

Resident of West Vancouver

Learn More: Art Centre Costs to Date?

ADRA will post questions to the District Enquiry Line Called “Learn More”
Here is #1:

How much was spent in 2021 on the Arts Centre project and how much cumulatively to the end of 2021? How much is in the 2022 Budget for this project?

As part of the arts facility planning process, community engagement took place in May and June 2021. The engagement considered two potential sites to build a new replacement arts facility. A total of $26,000 was spent in 2021 for the site selection community engagement, which is now complete.

The community engagement results indicated a split opinion on the two sites, and also raised raised several questions and concerns about many aspects of the project. As a result, on July 26, 2021, Council did not select either proposed site.

To date, the District has approved and spent $239,000 in total, including consultant work on the needs assessment ($82,000), building assessments ($5,000), site analysis ($126,000), and community consultation for site selection ($26,000).

To address the concerns and questions remaining in the community, and to raise awareness of the current condition of municipal arts facilities in West Vancouver, Council resolved that the Arts & Culture Center Site Selection – Engagement Summary Report be received for information; and that $150,000 be expended to develop:

additional community-wide engagement program on the next steps for arts and culture facilities in West Vancouver
a governance model and fundraising plan for the replacement of the facilities for arts and culture in West Vancouver.
This work will be conducted in 2022.

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

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

Arts Facility Plan

Please click the link below to see the October 1st update to the Arts Facility Planning document



Here is a recap of the AFAC Meeting with WVD held (16th Oct.) by Judy Chalmers of ADRA :

Site Identification

The sites that were identified were on the list ONLY because they are District owned properties.  There would be criteria that would need to be met so they were on the list because they were considered but some would not be an option

The criteria that the committee members evaluated each site on ( a scale of 1-5) were:

-Connectivity with Arts and Culture Community
-Placemaking / Destination Ability
-Functional Appropriateness
-Pedestrian/Vehicle/Public Transit Access
-Economic Connectivity
-Future Flexibility
-Parking and Loading
-Neighbourhood Enhancement
-Alignment with District’s Planning and Policy
-Development Timing
-Development Complexity
-Financial Efficiency

At the next meeting ( October 30 ) Cornerstone Consultants will present  and review the site analysis findings.

The District owned sites are:

  • Ambleside Field H
  • Ambleside Tennis Courts
  • 3 sites adjacent to the Ferry Building
  • Music Box and Silk Purse
  • John Lawson Park parking lot
  • Lawn Bowling site
  • S.A. C
  • Art Museum
  • Lots adjacent (east) of the fire hall
  • Library Parking Lot
  • Gordon House
  • Dundarave Park

    Keep in mind theses are ONLY IDENTIFIED as they are District owned properties, and may NOT even be considered as options due to MANY factors! For example: a site would be considered but has not been discussed, or is not an option…using the Library and Lawn Bowling, Dundarave Park as examples. There will also be private property options identified at a later date.

    Site size analysis was presented for the two options ( 1 or 2 buildings ) which was:
  • 1 storey with surface parking
  • 1 storey with underground parking
  • 2 storeys with surface parking
  • 2 storeys with underground parking

    Future AFAC meeting timeline
  • October 30 – review site analysis findings to draft a report
  • November 13 – review draft report        – develop community workshop material
  • November 20 – Community Workshop with stakeholders
    At this workshop the top 3 sites would be presented with massing models, land values, and cost to build.  At the public Q&A I asked if it would  be possible for an estimated build time-frame also.
    A possible date for presentation to Council would be end of January.

    With regards to Klee Wyck:  there is a Sub Committee to determine the short term and long term plans for that site.