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?

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.

Respectfully submitted,

Judy Chalmers

Resident of West Vancouver

No Progress in Improving Ambleside Commercial Area

A recent letter to Council from an ADRA member, David Marley

During the almost 32 years in which I have resided in West Vancouver I have witnessed what appears to be a steady deterioration in each of our District’s three main commercial centres, most markedly in Ambleside and Horseshoe Bay. Generally, with rare and welcome exception, the structures and street-scapes have become increasingly dilapidated, while more and more storefronts have been vacated. This latter phenomenon would be all the more evident but for the proliferation in more recent times of less than desirable currency exchanges, nail salons and realtors’ ‘pitch-parlours’. In Ambleside, we now even have a massage parlour. I’m anticipating the arrival of a payday loan outfit soon. 

Over the past three decades various Councils, each no doubt with good intentions and sincerity, have proclaimed a commitment to a revitalization of Ambleside and our other commercial centres. In my observation, very little, if any, such activity actually takes place. What does happen is the hiring of more District staff or more consultants, the conduct of more studies and the generation of more reports to Council. We’ve come to a point at which it is more appropriate to be talking about the resuscitation of our commercial centres, especially Ambleside and Horseshoe Bay.

As you will know, in January, 2018, District staff, evidently after two year’s effort, produced an ‘Economic Development Plan’ for West Vancouver (copy attached). It was filled with public relations bafflegab, such as building a “more vibrant, thriving and sustainable local economy over the long term”, flawed assumptions and little, if anything, of substance. Twenty-six months later, the COVID pandemic was acknowledged to have arrived in North America and our province’s chief health officer responded, in part, with the ordered lockdown of many, if not most, commercial enterprises. 

Slightly over two months after many of our local businesses were put under lockdown order, on May 25, 2020, District staff produced an update to the earlier Economic Development Plan. This document was thin gruel at best. It contained a mere two recommendations: firstly, a blindingly obvious suggestion that local restaurants, where their location and other circumstances were appropriate, be permitted to open or expand patio seating, and, secondly, that an ‘Economic Recovery Task Force’ be established by Council. The mandate and responsibilities of this task force were specified in some detail in Appendix “A” to the updated Plan, as was the suggested ten person membership. According to this document, the task force was expected to complete its work within 18 months. 

At a Council meeting, held on June 8, 2020, this task force was evidently established, with Mayor Booth to be in the chair. A quote in the June 11th NS News was attributed to our mayor, saying “I take this matter very seriously. I want to hear from businesses and we will do whatever we can to support them.” Since then, the only concrete action that I’ve seen DWV Council take in ‘support’ of our local businesses has been to raise their property taxes three times. 

According to the DWV web-site, as part of the District’s Strategic Plan for 2021-22, Council wants to encourage a local economy which features “vital and vibrant commercial centres”. Working “in conjunction with the Mayor’s task force”, the District intends to “support existing businesses and incentivize redevelopment” and will “take measures to support vibrancy (that word again), diversity, locality (whatever this is) and charm in commercial centres.” Quite an impressive agenda! Again, it’s mere bureaucratic bafflegab. 

Given the prominent reference to the economic recovery task force in the District’s strategic objectives for 2021/22, it seems strange to me that neither the composition nor, more importantly, the recommendations of the task force are to be found on the District’s web-site. 

In a recent e-mail, Mayor Booth advised me that an informal advisory committee was established, which had been “productive and constructive” and which has resulted in certain unspecified “suggestions” that “have or are being implemented”. That’s good I suppose, depending on the suggestions. What is the content of these suggestions? Which ones have to date been implemented? Which ones are being implemented? For that matter, which ones have been put on the back-burner or ignored entirely? Do you know? If not, why not? 

There’s an old Japanese proverb, one to which I subscribe wholeheartedly: “Fix the problem, not the blame.” During the watch of numerous DWV Councils over many years our three commercial centres have been steadily deteriorating. Their current state is truly appalling. In slightly over six months, as I’m sure you are more than well aware, our next municipal election will be held. As a central part of the debate and deliberations throughout the campaign leading to this election, ought to be the condition of our District’s commercial centres, about as far from vital and vibrant as one can imagine, and what various candidates for election or re-election to our local Council propose can and should to be done by our local government to assist with significant improvement to this situation in a timely fashion.  As a starting point, the residents and business owner-operators of West Vancouver deserve to know what to date has been done by this Council to address this situation, particularly with regard to the recommendations, whatever these may be, of the economic recovery task force established by Council almost two years ago. 

If you aren’t yet aware of the recommendations or, for that matter, the composition of the Economic Recovery Task Force, will you inform yourself and thereafter advise me? Or, even better, instruct staff to put this information in a prominent position on the District’s web-site and do so promptly in order that all local residents and business owner-operators might see what is, and is not, being done on their behalf or, at least, at their expense? 

Apparently, the District has recently hired a “senior community planner-economic development”. I have twice requested a copy of this individual’s job description but have yet to be provided with it. Will you instruct staff to e-mail a copy to me? 

My apologies for banging on at such length about this matter. I have a sincere concern about what is happening to my community respecting its commercial centres and a great desire to see a concrete plan articulated for remedial action of a timely nature. 

David Marley

West Vancouver, BC

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

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

https://westvancouver.ca/sites/default/files/dwv/council-agendas/2021/apr/12/21apr12-4.pdf

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

[email protected]
Councillor Craig Cameron  [email protected]      604-828-0805
Councillor Nora Gambioli   [email protected]       604-653-8823
Councillor Peter Lambur    [email protected]       604-644-1769
Councillor Bill Soprovich   [email protected]   604-561-3219
Councillor Sharon Thompson    [email protected]       604-209-4621
Councillor Marcus Wong     [email protected]        604-219-0064
Mayor Mary-Ann Booth     [email protected]       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

https://adrawestvan.ca

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