Mayor's Update: July 15
Jul 15, 2020
I am pleased to welcome our new CAO Robert Bartlett, and look forward to introducing him to the community in the coming months.
Property tax update
I am very happy to report that, as of today, more than 78% of residential taxes have been paid. Despite difficult times, this is just 7% below normal for this time of year. Only 19% of the business taxes have been paid, but later payment of these taxes was expected due to the provincial extension of the penalty date.
Council is extremely appreciative to everyone who has paid their taxes. With your help, we are able to continue to serve the community at a reasonable level and honour our other financial commitments.
Gradual re-opening protocol
I know many residents are really looking forward to the re-opening of community facilities. For every service we reopen, we must consider:
- the safety of our residents and staff;
- access to required equipment and supplies;
- financial viability; and
- labour requirements.
In the past weeks, we have re-opened several outdoor recreation facilities and programs, including some summer camp programs and limited outdoor health and fitness programs. If all goes well in the coming weeks, the next phase will include limited re-opening of facilities like the community centre and aquatic centre, under new protocols, including reduced class sizes and operating hours. Stay up-to-date on recreation programs and facilities by visiting westvancouverrec.ca.
Harmony Eats: outdoor dining on the waterfront
The Harmony Arts Festival had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 this year, but you can still enjoy dining on the waterfront safely. In partnership with three local restaurants—Savary Island Pie Company, Feast Neighbourhood Table, and the Truffle House—we have re-purposed the park space usually occupied by Harmony. Harmony Eats is not an event, it is an outdoor restaurant service offered every day, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., until September 8. Visit them at Millennium Park at the foot of 15th Street.
We are also working with our other local businesses to provide more outdoor patio space to operate safely, including on sidewalks, in curbside parking spaces, or on private property.
Other financial updates
After careful consideration, Council decided that restoring Navvy Jack House for use as a nature centre on the waterfront, while it would provide a new community amenity, would not be a prudent use of $2.3 million in taxpayer dollars. We do, however, want to properly commemorate the historical significance of the house, which was built in 1873 and is the longest continuously occupied house in the lower mainland.
We just learned that our 2017 application to vary the trust for Brissenden Park has been successful. The process took several years, but I believe the outcome is in the best interests of the community, while still honouring the intentions of the Brissendens. The plan provides an opportunity to purchase the last two private homes on Argyle and create a new Brissenden Waterfront Park in Ambleside for all to enjoy, while still preserving more than half of the original land as Brissenden neighbourhood park.
After three attempts, we are extremely pleased to have received a $1.85 million grant from the federal and provincial governments towards the $2.5 million restoration of the Ferry Building Gallery. The restoration will include relocating the building to higher ground to protect it from sea level rise and adding public washrooms, so our community can enjoy this important cultural facility for many years to come.
Given our 1700 empty homes, I continue to have conversations with provincial government representatives to ask for a vacancy tax for West Vancouver to support our affordable housing fund and other related costs. The provincial government has been consumed with COVID-related legislation recently, but has indicated they should be able to seriously consider this request in early 2021.
Finally, as we enter Phase 3 of the government’s Covid-19 Re-start Program, it’s important that we all stay vigilant, wash our hands often, practice physical distancing, wear a mask in confined spaces, and stay home if we are sick.
“Be kind, be calm, and be safe!”
Mayor Mary-Ann Booth