Mayor's Update: Special Edition - Arts and Culture Centre Site Selection
Jun 9, 2021
I am writing to you today to remind you that there is one week left to share your input on a preferred site for the proposed consolidated arts and culture facility.
I wrote to you in April, when Council unanimously advanced this project to public consultation; and I am reaching out to encourage you to make sure your voice is heard on this important matter before the June 16 deadline.
I would also like to address some of the misinformation that’s been circulating in the community since the survey was launched.
You can find information on this project in my April newsletter, or, better yet, on the website, which is user-friendly, concise, and contains many helpful FAQs. This project has a long history that includes years of studies, and pleas from the community to resolve the issue of our crumbling and unsuitable arts facilities. So we are pro-actively seeking to address the needs of our community with fact-based decision making, and we are still in the early stages of the process. The only question before us at this stage is “which site do you prefer”; which we need to determine before our staff can put together a proposal for consideration by Council.
Some members of the community are rightly questioning the need for this facility; and some other common themes are emerging:
It appears that some residents don’t realize that we already have an Art Museum with a substantial permanent collection. But Gertrude Lawson’s house is not fit for the purpose of properly exhibiting and storing these valuable works, including those of Gordon Smith and Emily Carr.
Residents also have valid concerns about park space and parking, which is why the proposals very explicitly avoid the loss of parking and green space. In fact, there will be more green space than ever when a new home is found for the Silk Purse, to protect it from flooding; and the Music Box is permanently removed from the waterfront.
There’s no question that a new facility will cost money to build, maintain and operate; but some of the numbers that I’ve seen out there are not accurate. Current estimates can be found at westvancouverite.ca/artsplanning. However, the answer to the cost question is also more nuanced.
First, we are currently spending money on the maintenance and repair of aging and unsuitable buildings as well as on the operations for arts and culture activities. We are also generating revenue from these activities. These expenses and revenues would transfer to any new facility, and while the costs will be higher, so will the revenues. This is analogous to the situation we faced before replacing our former community centre.
Secondly, it’s important to understand that it is too early to determine many of the costs for this project. That work cannot begin until we have selected a site and prepared a business case. Nevertheless, we have every expectation that we can raise the money through private donations, corporate partnerships, user fees, and other creative approaches.
Council’s vision, one that I am passionate about, is “… to make West Vancouver a complete community; and one that is liveable, vibrant and inclusive…to attract and inspire a full spectrum of people to live, play and work here. A vibrant economy, diverse housing choices and exciting amenities…are also part of Council’s vision.” And I very much subscribe to our community strategic plan mission statement: Lead by example and inspire excellence!
The vision developed by the community is not a new art gallery, or a museum. The vision is for a welcoming, gathering space for everyone. It will be a place to experience the diverse and rich cultures on the North Shore; nurture our up-and-coming artists, young and old; celebrate important occasions and events in a beautiful new venue; take pleasure in finding unique and meaningful gifts; and savour a glass of wine while basking in the local ambiance, animation, and amazing ocean outlooks.
As recently stated by Jennifer Webb, Chair of the Arts Facilities Advisory Committee, in an article in the North Shore Post:
“In a District as rich in talent and opportunity as this, and with such a legacy of accomplishment already in the areas of art, creative mentorship and education, architecture, design, performance and innovation, it’s time for us to create an Arts & Culture Centre truly worthy of this amazing place we live in.”
To that I would add – “Imagine all of this on what is currently just a parking lot…and, it will also have plenty of parking for everyone!”
Mayor Mary-Ann Booth
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