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Foot of Lonsdale remediation begins
Nearly one year after completing an environmental assessment of the Foot of Lonsdale lands, the City of North Vancouver has begun remediation work on contaminated parcels in the waterfront area.
Larry Orr, city waterfront manager, told The Outlook crews will be working throughout the month remediating the area beneath the parking lot in front of the city’s waterfront office and the area known as Lot 3 — the piece of land boasting a red-roofed heritage structure adjacent to the city building.
Orr said both sites will be accessed from a hole dug in the parking lot.
The source of the contamination, added Orr, is metal shavings, likely from the long history of shipbuilding and other manufacturing on the waterfront. Upon completion of the remediation process, the city is poised to take over the Lot 3 heritage building on a 50-year lease from Pinnacle International developers.
Preliminary costs for the work range between $500,000 and $950,000.
Further remediation will be needed underneath the Washington Marine group-owned Cates tugs building in the future, but a timeline for the work has yet to be finalized. The deck to support the parking lot has also been earmarked for a replacement, at a cost of about $4.3 million.
“The work actually advances taking control of the heritage buildings, where there is a lot of interest in future retail and restaurant activity,” said Orr. “But it is a difficult, complicated site.”
The Cates tugs building remains an area of interest for more than just environmental concerns. The majority of the design options for a new Foot of Lonsdale featured the Presentation House Gallery housed in the building.
Reid Shier, director of the Presentation House Gallery, told The Outlook he hopes to speak to council sometime this month to discuss the future of the Cates building.
Shier said the cost to retrofit the structure to meet the standard of a photography gallery would range between $6 million and $9.5 million. The reasons for the disparity, noted Shier, are whether the small north-facing piece of the structure is torn down and the long-term viability of the pilings underneath the main area.
If the pilings need to be redone, the cost will go up. Wesgroup Properties, developers of a proposed tower at 13th Street and Lonsdale Avenue, have pledged $1 million toward a new gallery in exchange for the added density their project requires.
There have been discussions about a new all-in-one arts building – complete with a gallery, theatre and museum — on the vacant site originally planned for the National Maritime Museum, but Shier says the gallery needs a dedicated space.
“We’ve all grown as institutions and want separate space,” said Shier, noting his organization plans to return to council chambers with a fundraising scheme in the fall to help pay for their planned relocation.
“I don’t mind a cultural presence on that site, but we’ve been working towards this for three years. This can be remarkable.”
Supporters of the Presentation House Gallery have cited its regional appeal as a reason for re-locating to the Cates building, helping establish North Van’s waterfront as a in-demand tourist destination.
Danny Singer, a local photographer, believes there is “nothing like the gallery in Western Canada” but called the current facility “a piece of junk.”
“That’s a high visibility waterfront and it’s crying out for something,” said Singer.
“Any new building would suffice, but it would be fantastic if it was a destination gallery. As a photographic artist myself, this gallery is first class. The only thing missing is the building.”
Heather Reinhold, deputy waterfront development manager, said city staff plans to present a detailed design for the Foot of Lonsdale lands to council before the end of the year.