Ferris wheel, outdoor ice rink and amphitheatre proposed for North Vancouver's Lonsdale waterfront

Dec 19 2017, 5:46 pm

Will North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Waterfront become “Canada’s best gathering place?” Plans have been unveiled to transform the former shipyard lands east of Lonsdale Quay into a major regional destination and lively hot spot that will activate and bring business to North Vancouver’s downtown area.

For the past decade, the City of North Vancouver has struggled with finding a suitable public use for ‘Lot 5’ which was previously slated for the now canceled National Maritime Museum. It will also incorporate plans to build a separately funded $15-million Presentation House Gallery museum building on the site.

The proposal’s highlights:

  • A large permanent ferris wheel at the end of the existing pier.
  • A 21,000 square foot covered outdoor amphitheatre with erupting water features during the summer that converts into a 15,000 square foot covered ice rink in the winter (2.5 times larger than the 6,000 square foot Robson Square ice rink). The plaza will ideally host a minimum of 250 event days a year and can only be used for public events.
  • The amphitheatre/ice rink’s tensile structure covering will include fixed exterior and interior interactive/programmable LED lighting.
  • Spaces for vendors, food carts, street performances, and event stages.
  • Restaurants and a microbrewery within existing structures.
  • A new 60,000 square building for retail and restaurant space (no chains or franchises).
  • Well-designed public spaces, with extensive street furniture, and a garden and gazebo.

The total cost of the project is $25-million and does not include the cost of a privately operated $20-million ferris wheel similar to the recently opened $20-million, 175-foot tall Seattle Great Wheel with 42 climate-controlled gondolas which has become one of Seattle’s most popular attractions and photographed landmarks.

Urban observational wheels have made a resurgence over the past 20 years, with major cities such as Singapore, New York, and Las Vegas engaging in a competition to build the world’s largest or tallest wheels.

Simple solutions are also proposed for revitalizing Lonsdale’s “dark and dreary cave” bus loop and to encourage more pedestrian and business activity in the area. This includes public art, street entertainment/buskers, and changing the business culture in Lonsdale so that businesses remain open much later into the evening as 70 per cent of spending is made after 6 p.m.

The proposal was devised based on the findings from an extensive survey that received 1,000 responses. The municipality hired Seattle-based Roger Brooks International, a tourism and marketing destination consultation firm, to create a conceptual plan to put forward to City Council.

However, funding for the project elements is unclear given the municipality’s coinciding priorities such as the Presentation House Gallery. Proponents believe there is significant local and regional demand for such an attraction, which will only be a short 15-minute SeaBus ride away from downtown Vancouver.

During Brooks’ 3-hour presentation to City Council, he pleaded councillors and the mayor to not allow the public and particularly the local anti-development activists to deter the project as proposed from moving forward.

“I’m begging you to just say, ‘Staff, make it happen.’ The second you go back out there and say ‘Public, what do you think? What should we change?’ all of a sudden, the whole thing is going to come apart,” he said. “You’re never going to get anywhere.”

If funding is secured, elements of the project could be open as early as 2016. A full draft of the plan will be completed in mid-March.

The Shipyards at North Vancouver – Conceptual Renderings

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Image: Roger Brooks

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Image: Roger Brooks

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Image: Roger Brooks

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Image: Roger Brooks

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Image: Roger Brooks

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Image: Roger Brooks

Click on image to expand for larger version:
Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 9.48.18 AM
Image: Roger Brooks

Click in image for expanded version:
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Image: Roger Brooks

Seattle Great Wheel – opened in 2012:

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Image: Roger Brooks

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Image: Roger Brooks

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Image: Michael Benton Photography

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Image: Roger Brooks

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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