De­vel­oper wants West Van in­put

Vancouver Sun - - FINANCIAL POST - EVAN DUG­GAN evan@evan­dug­gan.com twit­ter.com/EvanBDug­gan

West Vancouver’s Bri­tish Pa­cific Prop­er­ties (BPP) has launched a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion drive to help bring to life a master-planned com­mu­nity above the Up­per Lev­els High­way that the de­vel­oper is call­ing its most am­bi­tious project since Park Royal shop­ping mall in 1950.

BPP is ask­ing the com­mu­nity to help shape the 350-acre master plan for Cy­press Vil­lage, the first sig­nif­i­cant mixed-use de­vel­op­ment above the Up­per Lev­els High­way in West Vancouver.

The idea for a vil­lage near the first switch­back of Cy­press Bowl Road emerged in 2004 and fo­cuses on a tract of land be­tween the Rodgers Creek neigh­bour­hood to the east and the fu­ture Cy­press West neigh­bour­hood to the west, and bound by West­mount and Cy­press creeks. The com­pany is work­ing on “one of the most com­pre­hen­sive” com­mu­nity en­gage­ments ever un­der­taken by a sin­gle pri­vate prop­erty owner in Metro Vancouver, BPP pres­i­dent Ge­off Croll told The Sun last week.

Croll said they’ve en­listed the pub­lic’s help to shape three dif­fer­ent master plans with vary­ing lev­els of den­sity that would even­tu­ally be brought for­mally to coun­cil. Cy­press Vil­lage would in­clude houses, town­houses, apart­ments, as well as rental and se­niors’ hous­ing. Croll said the project could also in­clude a com­mu­nity cen­tre, civic plaza and sev­eral shops, ser­vices and restau­rants.

Croll de­scribed the first of three pos­si­ble plans as hav­ing a com­pact, com­mer­cial area sim­i­lar to Dun­dar­ave, di­vided by a main street and sur­rounded by hous­ing. A sec­ond op­tion sug­gests a “mini Whistler,” with a pedes­trian-only com­mer­cial area sur­rounded by four- to six­s­torey build­ings; and a third plan — sim­i­lar to Vancouver’s Olympic Vil­lage — would have a con­cen­tra­tion of taller, mixed-use build­ings with lower den­sity build­ings sur­round­ing the core.

“A key part of the process in­cluded invit­ing high-pro­file speak­ers to talk to the com­mu­nity about ur­ban­ism and smart growth to broaden the dis­cus­sion about how built en­vi­ron­ments can in­flu­ence our qual­ity of life,” Croll said.

The speak­ers in­cluded Richard Florida, an ur­ban­ist and au­thor of The Rise of the Cre­ative Class; Charles Mont­gomery, au­thor of Happy City, and de­mog­ra­pher David Foot, who wrote Boom, Bust & Echo.

“It’s a great way of spark­ing di­a­logue, of spark­ing ra­tio­nal de­bate,” Croll said. “It’s peo­ple just talk­ing about what com­mu­nity means to them.”

He said Cy­press Vil­lage would be more var­ied than a neigh­bour­hood of sin­gle-fam­ily homes so com­mon in West Van. “There’s an op­por­tu­nity there to put ev­ery­thing on the ta­ble. What does the com­mu­nity need? What does the com­mu­nity want?”

West Vancouver’s man­ager of com­mu­nity plan­ning David Hawkins de­clined an in­ter­view, say­ing in an email that the up­dated Cy­press Vil­lage plan won’t be pre­sented to coun­cil un­til later this fall.

But he told the CBC in April 2015 that the cen­tral­ized vil­lage con­cept aims to pre­serve much of the moun­tain­side for en­vi­ron­men- tal rea­sons, in­clud­ing protecting 500-year-old trees in the area.

A vol­un­teer cit­i­zens’ work­ing group com­pleted a re­port of the Up­per Lands — in­clud­ing the Cy­press Vil­lage plot — in June 2015, which listed 29 rec­om­men­da­tions in­clud­ing that res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment should not go above 365 me­tres el­e­va­tion, or the 1,200-foot con­tour line.

The group also rec­om­mended the pre­ven­tion of hous­ing sprawl in the area.

Croll said BPP has no plans to de­velop any res­i­den­tial proper- ties above the con­tour line, but is con­sid­er­ing al­ter­na­tive com­mu­nity uses.

“What doesn’t the com­mu­nity have? They don’t have a hos­pi­tal, they don’t have a post-sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tion,” he said. “They don’t have a ho­tel, and so those are the uses you could do above 1,200 feet that are con­sis­tent with the rec­om­men­da­tions from the Up­per Land Work­ing Group, and the zon­ing would also meet the needs of the com­mu­nity.”

West Vancouver city coun­cil­lor Nora Gam­bi­oli lauded BPP’s pub­lic en­gage­ment drive. “They’re do­ing some­thing very cre­ative,” she said last week. “They’re do­ing their best to bring in th­ese pro­gres­sive speak­ers, who are talk­ing about all th­ese great things.”

Gam­bi­oli said she at­tended two of the three speak­ing events. “They’ve had a big at­ten­dance, which is great, but a lot of the peo­ple I see there are the peo­ple who are al­ready in­volved.”

She said she sup­ports the Cy­press Vil­lage idea, but not the tim­ing. “It’s a won­der­ful con­cept,” she said. “But the district needs to bal­ance their du­ties to all other projects and ideas … BPP is push­ing this be­cause this is their busi­ness.”

She said the district has many other pri­or­i­ties that re­quire at­ten­tion from staff and coun­cil. “We have a lot of other lo­ca­tions for de­vel­op­ment, which are much closer to trans­porta­tion, which are much closer to schools that al­ready ex­ist, and much closer to fire halls that al­ready ex­ist.”

Croll said BPP hopes to wrap up the cre­ation of the frame­work plans im­mi­nently.

MARK VAN MANEN

Ge­off Croll, pres­i­dent of Bri­tish Pa­cific Prop­er­ties, is plan­ning a de­vel­op­ment above the Up­per Lev­els High­way in West Vancouver.

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