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