Ambleside needs to shed no-fun zone title: Resident group
More late-night restaurants, outdoor patios and live performances are needed to revitalize the waterfront community, the group’s leaders say.
What is Ambleside known for?
Its panoramic view of Vancouver. Yes.
The winding seawall. Yes.
A pleasant place to watch the waves. Yes.
A fun place for a night out. Not so much.
But this will change if a growing group of North Shore residents has its way.
They want to liven-up the beachfront community with hip restaurants, small independent shops, cafés and, perhaps, even a wine bar.
“I’d love a store — any store – to be open past 8 p.m.,” says Fardad Moayeri from his home in Dundarave.
“I’d like sidewalk cafés and restaurants with outdoor patios that would fill the streets with the smell of exotic foods.”
But these changes may never happen, he adds, unless people show their support at West Van council meetings.
“Awareness is really low on what [West Van] council is trying to do to enliven the city,” Moayeri says.
To revitalize Ambleside Village and the waterfront, West Van council is considering a new concession stand, food carts, a larger farmers market, sidewalk dining and bike lanes, among other community-centred initiatives.
“Ever since we said we were looking for people to support change in Ambleside, we’ve been bombarded with dozens of emails,” says Moayeri’s friend Joanna Baxter.
“My husband and I go downtown a lot but we want to be able stay here. This community needs to be more self sufficient.”
She expects around 50 people to show up to a West Vancouver council meeting on March 4 to show their support for revitalization.
A group of “no-fun zone advocates” are resisting change that will make West Van better, says Moayeri.
“These grumpy nay-sayers don’t want Vancouver to change. They are loudly voicing their opinions at the council meetings where major proposals and crucial decisions about Ambleside waterfront are being made.”
A silent majority isn’t showing up to council meetings so their opinions aren’t being heard, added Baxter.
“[This is] the young, fun-seeking demographic that cares about having an ounce of hip, fun, beauty, art and food — things that are currently scarce or shut down soon after 8 p.m. on any Friday.”
Among other projects, the district is looking into adding more outdoor patios on the sidewalks or possibly to adjacent parking areas.
Similar to downtown Vancouver, council would also like a wider variety of food choices, possibly small food carts close to the beach due to their success at community events, particularly the annual Harmony Arts Festival.
And this list goes on. A visual arts centre in John Lawson Park’s parking lot is an option, adding to West Van’s other cultural facilities like the Ferry Building Gallery, Lawson Creek Studio and the Silk Purse.
Two district-owned houses on Argyle Avenue are also up for discussion, with the possibility of a restaurant being built on the prime waterfront spot.
In fact, the district is drafting a revitalization plan for the entire Ambleside area. Under the proposal, two festival areas along 14th and 17th street would be pedestrian focused and would provide spaces for street vendors, performers, markets and festivals. Public art, new benches and drought-resistant trees are highlighted for the community, which hasn’t seen new streets or sidewalks for more than 20 years.
“I like to go out after 8 p.m.; there are some places but the choices are very minimal. I don’t want to have to drive over the bridge anymore,” Coun. Craig Cameron told The Outlook over the phone, adding he wants decisions on these proposed projects to move faster than they currently are.
“Ambleside is the perfect place. It has a lot of parking and no neighbours are nearby so noise wouldn’t be an issue. I want to see music and live performances.”
Opposition to the revitalization projects includes concerns about lack of parking, increased noise and the effect of more buildings on the character of Ambleside.
At a council meeting in November, for instance, concern was raised about how taking away parking spaces would affect those who drive, particularly the elderly.
“One of the big things is how do people get to Ambleside in outlying areas. Not all are going to walk,” said Coun. Bill Soprovich at the time.
A proposed development on the 1300-block of Marine Drive, which would include one seven- and one eight-storey building, has also drawn criticism and praise from West Van residents. Opponents are worried the residential-commercial buildings, which are taller than previously allowed, would block views and ruin neighbourhood character, while supporters welcome the apartments as new housing options.
The district is hosting public workshops about the proposed projects. Next on the agenda is the Spirit Trail on March 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Gleneagles Community Centre.