The interview below is published today in lowerlonsdale.ca, a website devoted to happenings in Lower Lonsdale.
The Mayor was interviewed together with the City’s Communication Manager about upcoming plans for the Waterfront area. North Van City Voices is not aware that the stated plans have been presented to Council, or that funding has been made available in the budget.
We are also concerned that in discussing the Presentation House Gallery he refers to involvement in the project as “we” and extolls all of the virtues of the Gallery. His reference to the Museum planned for in the Pipe Shop seems dismissive and he refers to the project as “the folks”. This would lead us to ask why the support for the Gallery and not the Museum?
There are so many questions.
Link to story: A Chat With NV City Mayor Darrell Mussatto: Part 1 |.
A CHAT WITH NV CITY MAYOR DARRELL MUSSATTO: PART 1
header image via Youtube
Important note: LowerLonsdale.ca does not have any political alliances, nor do we have plans to endorse any politicians. Any opinions in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of LowerLonsdale.ca.
When Justin and I first started chatting about interviewing The Mayor, we had a very specific idea of how we wanted it to go down:
- At a bar
- With drinks
I guess that was pretty much it. We wanted to humanize the guy and make him feel comfortable, so meeting at his office didn’t feel right.
We’d been in contact with The City of North Vancouver since launching LowerLonsdale.ca in October 2014 to get event information and stuff. I emailed Connie, The City’s lovely Communications Manager, to set up a date. Connie was totally receptive to the idea of an informal chit-chat, and suggested that we do lunch at either the Pinnacle Restaurant or Pier 7. But that didn’t feel right either, so we told Connie we wanted to meet at Raglan’s. Perfect.
Excited and nervous for our meeting with a prominent political figure, we arrived at Raglan’s 20 minutes early. Awaiting patiently for our guest of honour, we joked about a helicopter landing in the middle of Lonsdale Ave., The Mayor hopping out, Connie and dark suited secret-service agents in tow. At precisely 12 o’clock Mayor Mussatto and Connie showed up, sans secret service.
We spent the first 20 or so minutes ordering food and drinks. Since we were at Raglan’s, we asked Mayor Mussatto if he’d like to split a monsoon fishbowl with us. He politely declined and opted for a single bottle of Corona, citing “afternoon meetings” as his reason for not wanting to get drunk. Fair enough, Mr. Mayor.
Pleasantries out of the way, we got down to business:
[My questions are in bold and the Mayor’s answers are in regular font]
We couldn’t be more excited about the changes coming to the foot of Lonsdale, especially those within the proposed Central Waterfront Development Plan. How do you envision this transformation?
You guys are getting involved in the community at one of the most exciting times. The plans we have for Shipbuilder’s square are incredible. We want Lower Lonsdale to be a food, culture and entertainment hub with something for everyone to enjoy; from families with young kids to 20-something guys your age. We want to build off the success of the summertime Friday Night Markets and have something exciting to offer every night of the week.
The summer night markets were awesome. What other events or attractions do you want to introduce to the area?
I want to build off the things that are already working in the neighbourhood. Lower Lonsdale is known for it’s high quality restaurants, food, local artisans and the natural waterfront vistas. Restaurants and food are at the top of that list. That’s why I think the summer night market are such a success, because people already correlate the area with good food. Good food and interesting things to look at.
The first thing we need to do is bring more live entertainment to Shipbuilders square. The plan is to move the main stage so that the performers face north and the viewers face south towards the water and the amazing view. Imagine how cool it would be to watch a live concert with the city lights in the background!
Yeah, that makes way more sense. It would be cool if the stage was bigger too.
I agree. I want it to be able to facilitate legitimate concerts with special effects and great sound. We’re also installing this huge tent over top of the entire square. It’ll be kind of like Canada place, except no walls, so we’ll be able to host events in the rain and all year long, instead of just summer.
When do you think those two things will be complete? The stage and the tent?
I’m working to get the stage done by this spring, and the tent by fall 2015.
Nice. We can’t wait for Tap and Barrel to move into the neighbourhood this spring. Are there any other restaurants coming to the foot of Lonsdale we should know about?
That’s the big one, and me too. It’s sure to be a big hit. The idea for the central waterfront development focuses around eating, enjoying the arts and being merry. We love the idea of hosting festivals, beer gardens and craft beer festivals to compliment the eclectic establishments in the neighbourhood. Lower Lonsdale is already home to some of the best restaurants in Greater Vancouver and that’s not going to change in the foreseeable future.
Are you concerned that big-name restaurants like Tap and Barrel will hurt the independent places like Raglan’s?
Not at all. We have some gems down here and a lot of the businesses have strong local ties. If anything, once we’re bringing more people to Lower Lonsdale through events and attractions all of the businesses will collectively benefit.
Let’s talk about the Polygon Gallery. The rendering looks like a giant block of Lego…
Haha. You don’t like it eh? I think it looks cool.
Maybe it wouldn’t look so bad somewhere else, but I think a feature building on the water like that should have a west-coast vibe with more wood and windows. Or maybe a refurbished ship house or something.
Yeah, that would be neat too. We’re about a third of the way to our $15 million benchmark for the new art gallery, so the design may change between now and then. What’s more important is what an improved and modern gallery will bring to this community. Almost 20,000 square feet of gallery, presentation and studio space right on the water to showcase everything from not only local artists, but artists from all over the world. We’ll have a great venue to bring in some truly world class exhibits.
What about the Pipe Shop? Isn’t it slated to become a North Vancouver Museum in the spring of 2016? Why do we need a 10,000 square foot museum right next door to a 20,000 square foot Art Gallery? Couldn’t there be a museum wing within the gallery?
That’s a fair question. The folks propelling the museum venue are passionate and committed, but they still need to raise a significant amount of capital to make the museum a reality. At the end of the day, the market and community will dictate what occupies the Pipe Shop venue.
How about this fabled skating rink? There were some rumours flying around Christmas time that was going to happen this year.
The skating rink is definitely going to happen! With the new tent over top of the square, we’ll have the rink underneath and it will be a properly cooled sheet of ice. I want to make it as big as possible under the tent and have live webcams like New York and Chicago where you can see people skating and having a ball of a time. Then we’ll have support vendors selling hot chocolate, warm treats, apparel, skate rentals, etc. I want the rink to be WAY bigger than the one downtown at Robson square.
Sounds like a lot of fun. What’s it going to cost to keep the ice frozen? Seems like an expensive endeavour.
That’s the beauty of the project. What’s the by-product of cooling something? Like how your refrigerator is hot at the back? Cooling something gives off heat! And local North Vancouver engineering company, Lonsdale Energy Corporation, has helped The City develop a way to harness the heat generated from cooling the rink, and transfer the heat to some of the surrounding buildings.
Now what about this ferris wheel we keep hearing rumours about? Is that going to happen?
I don’t know. To be honest the ferris wheel or a similar “ride” type attraction is near the bottom of the list. I’d say it’s closer to five years away, if it’s going to happen. Certain cities such as Seattle and London have seen some great success from this type of draw, and we’re definitely interested in entertaining the idea. I’m focused on the changes and upgrades we can start working towards today. I’m also not convinced that blocking the view of downtown with a large structure is the best idea…
Yeah, that’s a good point. I’m more or less indifferent on the wheel. I see it as more of a tourist gimmick than something that adds value to people in the community.
You know what I REALLY want to have out on the pier?
A swimming pool on a barge. New York City has this floating pool in the river. You can’t swim in the rivers around New York because of pollution, so they put in a pool that’s basically a big barge with water in it floating on the river. It’s incredible. How cool would it be to have a Kits pool-style pool floating just off the pier with slides and diving boards? It would really be something special for The City to have in the summer, since there’s no great beach access within city boundaries in North Van.
Seriously? That’s amazing. Do you know how efficient the process is?
Not off the top of my head, but I’ll definitely get you in contact with Lonsdale Energy Corporation so you can get the details from them. I’m really excited about this project, and 100% committed to making the winter ice rink a reality in 2016. It’s going to be the real deal.
A pool on a barge would be rad, Mr. Mayor.
[END OF PART 1]
PART 2 of Lower Lonsdale’s chat with North Vancouver City Mayor Darrell Mussatto continues on Tuesday, February 24th at 7:30 am.