I recently had the good fortune to tour North Vancouver’s waterfront led by Mayor Darrell Mussatto and Councillor Linda Buchanan. We also got to experience the launch of their Friday Night Food Truck Festival, but that’s a whole different story for next month!
Just over a year ago, North Vancouver published their ‘Central Waterfront Development Plan’ describing a vision to rehabilitate their historic industrial waterfront. Five words: ‘this vision is about people’ kicks off the 65-page report.
Some highlights of the plan’s mission include statements like “culturally and historically rich, it must be a year round gathering place, be void of vehicles yet accessible, make it intimate, must be programmed and must be monetized”. In the end, the report cited these among the ‘ten commandments’ of downtown waterfront development.
Their project is quickly becoming a ‘people place’ of outstanding proportions. As Mayor Mussatto led me running up and down the piers, around construction barricades, and over graveled environmental remediation sites, through a 750 seat “Tap & Barrel” restaurant (to open this summer), I couldn’t stop making comparisons with Nanaimo’s South Downtown Waterfront. In North Van, the pace of progress seemed incredibly rapid in contrast with our experience in Nanaimo. When I questioned how you turn a plan into reality in such a short time frame, his answer was simple.
Choose the best help to help develop and define your community’s vision, get buy-in from elected leaders — because it’s the right thing to do, ensure staff understands clearly what plan they’re following, and move forward with deliberation and commitment. Most importantly, “don’t sweat the small stuff”.
North Vancouver’s modus operandi is simple, the ten points of their mission clearly detail their vision and their committed actions demonstrate they’re moving forward with determination on behalf of the community. Is this a model that we could be following more closely here? Is it possible to consider North Van as a ‘best practice’ to adopt for our South Downtown Waterfront?
Can we try doing it that way, and be careful not to ‘sweat the small stuff’? The evidence of a potentially incredible successful outcome is there, and from what I saw it looked VERY good for business. And that’s good for any community.
Kim Smythe, CEO