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Letter to Mayor and Council re Ship Point - Final Master Plan Design

June 14, 2018


Re: Ship Point - Final Master Plan Design


Dear Mayor Helps and Council,


The DRA Land Use Committee has reviewed the proposed final design option for Ship Point. Our letter of June 5, 2017 noted that the Downtown Liveability Workshop held in 2014 identified the top liveability priority for downtown residents is the provision of additional “usable” green space for Downtown. Therefore, the priority for the DRA regarding Ship Point is that the design maximizes the provision of additional usable green space to the recognized lack of existing inventory found Downtown.


Committee members provided comments and feedback on the final design as follows:


· The proposed final design for Ship Point is composed of less than 20% of green space, much of which is inaccessible or rain gardens/shore treatment or bisected by roads or concrete retaining walls. The current design proposes essentially no change to the existing amount of green space and arguably a decrease in green space that is usable by the public.

· We understand there are a handful of commercial stakeholders who have identified their own priorities for this site. However, the feedback data generated by the public participation process, and reflected in the online survey strongly recognized the design priority of green space and people over vehicles. The proposed final design option does not reflect these priorities.

· Vehicle access roadways bisect the site separating the “pedestrian precinct” from the water; cutting the site into several in-cohesive pieces.

· There also does not appear to be a strong case for the exit roadway that needlessly bisects the “concert bowl” in the southern half of the site. Vehicle access to the site can be adequately served with a single access point at the north end of the site. Vehicle access laneways for the docks and festivals can be narrowed and access regulated with popup bollards and be “Commercial access only”.

· Staff used the example of Granville Island as a reference for this site. However, the design offered contradicts many successful aspects of Granville Island. Granville Island has 300 businesses employing 3000 people which all use a single vehicular access drive to serve that extremely large site. While vehicles and pedestrians often intermingle on Granville Island, pedestrians are given priority along the water’s edge. Vehicles are not placed between pedestrians and the water.

· The proposed structure appears to be expensive of an uncertain purpose and questionable commercial viability as the proposed commercial portions are on what would be a seldom used “dead end” pedestrian ramp. It is also a concern that the provision of only 25 parking spaces in the proposed structure represents a far greater loss of parking capacity for the site than could be justified by the cost of the structure.

· If a grand staircase is proposed, it should connect two animated and populated areas such as the homecoming plaza and the concert bowl. It should also be designed to provide concert seating in that location. The current proposed location has none of the prerequisites of a “Grand Stair” lacking both an upper and lower focal point that makes for successful execution. The upper termination has no focal point at all and the lower termination only fronts a commercial enterprise.

· Flat green space with picnic tables and other seating should be added along the waterfront and the David Foster pathway should be more clearly defined.

· Why not keep it simple? We all know there’s a lack of usable green space downtown so why not put as much of the site as possible under grass with well-placed trees and maybe gardens? There are too many hard edged features such as concrete terraces that will unfortunately provide excellent campsites.

· A simple inexpensive solution is likely the best. This is a flat site that can be converted to level useable green space (with or without a parking structure under it) for a fraction of the cost of the proposed Ship Point Master Plan.


While the interests of the commercial stakeholders appear accommodated in the proposed design, the concerns expressed by the majority of the respondents and the participants of the DRA Downtown Liveability Workshop have been disregarded. Staff has promoted this design as a response to the community’s need for more usable green space. However, with less than 20% of the site dedicated to green space (much of it unusable) this plan fails to deliver an effective response to this concern and instead proposes more hard surfaces and a dedication to a vehicular thoroughfare and a (likely) impractical and expensive public building.


Thankfully the significant cost of the proposed design will be an impediment to implementation and an impetus for reconsideration. It is recognized that the geotechnical issues already identified along the waterfront portions of this site need to be dealt and will consume considerable funds. There is not the same urgency to execute the proposed design for the public spaces beyond the waterfront and we respectfully request that Council direct staff to reconsider the many design shortcomings of the proposed design and to prioritize an effective remedy to the lack of “usable” green space downtown.


Sincerely,

Ian Sutherland

Chair Land Use Committee

Downtown Residents Association



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