Thanks to @busdriverlife for giving me the heads up on the plan for Ship Point having gone back through City Hall this last Thursday. For those that don't know, Ships Point and the adjoining parking lot are two of the three lots that sit along the eastern side of the inner harbour, just below Wharf Street.
I haven't gone through all the documents that city staff provided to Council with a fine tooth comb, but I think I got the general idea of what is going on. Back in July, I did a post on the initial plan that the City was bringing forward for public input on, I wasn't super enthused.
While I had a number of concerns, some of which have been at least modestly addressed in the new plan, my biggest concern was with what they are now calling a "Pavillion" at the north-east portion of the lot this hasn't changed.
So what is better?
There are two areas in particular where I can see that the plan is being improved based on the feedback. First, the parking lot just next to the pier will now not have parking on it during non-festival times. The fact that the City was considering going through this whole process only to leave the majority of the land down there for parking was unbelievable. It is still not clear to me how the City is thinking that this will be a dynamic space twelve months of the year but at least it won't be for parking cars.
The other improvement that I can see is the elimination from the plan of the urban beach that was to be just to the north of the Harbour Air Terminal. Just across the harbour from here is a beautiful urban beach (below the Ocean Point Resort) that is almost never used. Instead the new focus is on a hard surfaced plaza with a commercial kiosk, which I think sounds like a vast improvement.
And what is still going wrong?
As I have said the biggest problem with the entire plan lies with the "Pavillion" building. Here is what the new comments from the City say:
"...a proposed low-rise pavilion style building that may include opportunities for active commercial tenants such as a restaurant or cafe, as well as flexible open space that can be used to support special events and festivals within a weather protected building."
This building should be the hub that brings this whole site together, especially in the eight months of the year when there is a good chance of rain but reading this confirms for me that the building has no purpose yet. The City wants to design a space and a building with no plan for how it will function. Of all the places in the city where we don't need a vacant space, the heart of our harbour and tourist district is it. The design stage should be focused on how the many restaurants will interact with the public space, as well as the key tenant. But there is no key tenant, just flexible open space. As I said before, I think that this building should, in its architecture, be as bold and innovative as the other buildings that overlook the harbour. Apparently, we don't have the vision of the builders of the legislature or the Empress.
The other problem with the space is that there still seems to be a lot of it. As you will see when you read through, especially in the public feedback, there is a wish for there to be a draw such as a maritime museum or a First Nations Cultural Museum, both of which would be wonderful. There needs to be something else here otherwise for much of the year it will be a vacant and quiet space and we will have lost the chance to create something amazing.
Let me know some of the things you would like to see on these lots! Even better tell the City what you think here.