North Vancouver is about to transform its waterfront—and itself

Exciting things are happening on the northern shore of Burrard Inlet. In late February, the City of North Vancouver unveiled plans for the re-development of 12 acres of land sitting largely underutilized or vacant just a few steps west of Lonsdale Quay, one the city’s main hubs and connections to other parts of the region.
What’s exciting about the plan is that it follows the idea of building a “complete community”, as envisioned in North Vancouver’s Official Community Plan. The so called Harbourside project will include spaces to live, work and play—all in one of the most beautiful urban settings imaginable: the North Shore mountains in the back and Vancouver’s handsome skyline across the glittering waves.
North Van wants to draw people to the waterfront at all times of the day
(Photo credit: Martin Jurek/Flickr, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
The project has the potential to transform the city. And it appears that the ambition is to do no less than that. Roger Brooks, whose Seattle-based firm developed the marketing plan for the project, wants to make North Vancouver a magnet for local and international tourists. He told the Vancouver Sun:
“All too often, […] tourists and Vancouverites look at the SeaBus and consider a trip over but there isn’t enough to attract them to North Vancouver. All of that will change with this bold new plan.”
Attracting visitors is one thing and a ferriswheel could be a way to do it. But when a community reshapes its shoreline, it is crucial that a broad range of perspectives around waterfront planning is taken into account. This includes ensuring that public, residential and industrial uses can be integrated in a sustainable way. It also includes conservation issues, such as ecosystem restoration and climate change adaptation.
The Harbourside project, for example, is an opportunity to connect a new space for shopping, entertainment and service/office jobs with nearby industry that fuels the local economy, as Brian McCauley, President and COO of Concert Property, the developer behind the proposal, recognizes. In a promotional videofor the project, he says:
“With the recent award of the 8 billion ship building contract to Seaspan in the City of North Vancouver, it’s an exciting time for businesses and industry as a whole […] it’s a 25 to 30 year contract, which will generate significant employment opportunities, but it also creates the need for figuring out transportation and traffic management. They are also looking for an opportunity to house their own work force within easy walking distance.”
As Derek Lee points out, a landscape architect involved with the project, Harbourside might not only connect industry and community, but it could also become a “pearl on the necklace” that is Spirit Trail, the North Shore’s largest urban greenway.
Whether North Vancouver’s effort to transform its shoreline—and to be transformed by it as a community—will pay off, will depend on whether the city and all parties involved are committed to an integrated, long term plan for the waterfront, a plan that reflects the environmental, economical and community needs, and not least the ideas and hopes of citizens.
Just across the inlet, Georgia Strait Alliance is working with a broad range of stakeholders on our new Waterfront Initiativetowards building a resilient and prosperous Vancouver shoreline that supports healthy ecosystems, recreation, access to nature and a strong economy. We’re starting out with a focus on the City of Vancouver, but we plan to expand the initiative to all of Metro Vancouver, including the North Shore.
A long-term plan for our waterfront will benefit everyone and it has the potential to make our community a better place. Let’s make it happen together!

2 thoughts on “North Vancouver is about to transform its waterfront—and itself

  1. This is a very superficial and inaccurate account. Lonsdale Quay and Harbourside are two different entities. The proposal to blight the Quay with a ferris wheel is an insensitive import. I&#39;m sure there are untold numbers of North Shore residents who could do better.Who monitored this report?<br />I&#39;ll sign this critique. Donald Munro

    • Dear Donald, <br /><br />Thank you for your comment and critique. I agree that a blog post can only touch the surface of what is a complex issue. I do want to point out though that nowhere in the post are we suggesting that Lonsdale Quay and Harbourside are the same entity. Also, in the text, we are neither supporting nor opposing the idea of a ferris wheel, but we are very clear in stressing

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