In the good news/bad news department, the City of Vancouver has announced a “Request for Expression of Interest (RFEOI) “on a proposed master plan for four iconic west end parks, their beaches, and the adjacent street networks. Noting that there is an expectation of 18,000 more residents in the West End by 2040 and the fact that this area is heavily frequented by tourists, the City is looking at a refreshing rethink of this place that is so loved by locals.

That heavily used parks that are older are being considered for a facelift is great, with enhancements being proposed for Morton Park, better connections for cyclists to the seawall, better readable open space, and an emphasis on biodiversity and festival space.

The Vancouver Aquatic Centre built in 1976 is over forty years old and is due for an overhaul. It would benefit from a redesign that tied it into Sunset Park. The RFEOI also wants to explore climate change and sea rise, and  do work differently. Noting that these lands are on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, any proposal must include meaningful engagement with the Nations. This could be very exciting to have placemaking and marking from the indigenous perspective, and explore culturally and historically the use and importance of this site.

The bad news was it appeared that some City Councillors and Parks Commissioners were unaware of this city proposal and initiative, which follows city policy to improve and manage public amenities and improve active transportation connections.

John Coupar of the Parks Board told Global News  “This looks like a big, big project with a lot of moving parts from what I read, and we were not aware of anything like this. It shouldn’t have come to us this way.”

Hopefully there will now be a briefing for City Councillors and the Parks Board to understand the scope of the proposal and why it is important for a densifying downtown.  There will also be the need to think about resiliency and how best to adapt the space to potential water level changes in the future. Other issues that will be sure to be contentious are commercial facilities for selling food and beverages and what those operations will look like near these iconic beaches.

The deadline for the Proposals for Expressions of Interest is May 30. From there a shorter list of respondents will be requested to prepare more in depth documents.


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