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Here are the 9 most notable pieces of Vancouver's West End shoreline plan

How do new islands, updated parks, and a place to skateboard sound?

The draft for the redesigned West End shoreline has some big ideas presented as possibilities and embraces a more natural feel to the popular beaches.

With a plan that stretches 30 years into the future (imagine what the Olympic Village looked like in 1993) the draft keeps things relatively flexible while providing ideas on how the city should proceed with a cohesive vision for the area.

As essentially all the land included in the plan is owned by the city, it won't be as affected by other parties as other plans can be. However, there's no budget or push to get any one part of the plan done soon, so it could be quite a while before some of the changes suggested happen.

Before that though, the city is asking the public to give feedback on the draft plan, with a survey and a pair of open houses this month:

  • Thursday, Nov. 16 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Vancouver Aquatic Centre lobby
  • Saturday, Nov. 18 from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Sunroom at Robson Square

Public feedback will help shape whether the draft plan is submitted to staff as is or if changes are made.

Here are some of the bigger ideas suggested in the draft.

1. Welcome Centre and park entrance

The draft proposes a lot of changes around the intersection of Davie and Denman streets.

While Amazing Laughter (the series of statues of laughing men) will stay, most of the area around it could change. Additions include a welcome centre, expanded plaza, splash pad and more. The welcome centre would include a cafe and change rooms.

The area currently includes an unused roadway and sits at the end of Denman, which is a popular pedestrian area, so the city is looking to work with that in mind.

"Priorities for this area are providing more opportunities for a variety of activities and crowd sizes, along with conveniently located amenities, including washrooms and change rooms," reads the draft plan.

2. Amphitheatre

In the draft, city staff note that many locals were looking for better and more variety in gathering areas in the area. As Sunset Beach and English Bay Beach are often used for impromptu parties and musical events, the potential amphitheatre could fill that role.

Currently, where the amphitheatre is in the draft plan sits a grass field above Sunset Beach.

3. Skateboard area

Covered skateboarding areas have long been sought after by local skaters and a space is included in the draft. The Vancouver Skate Board Coalition has already posted about the new design and encouraged members to participate in the civic process.

The draft shows the skatepark filling part of the current parking lot near Beach Avenue and Jervis Street.

Another area in the draft for other wheeled activities is a roller hockey space next to the amphitheatre near where the current Sunset Beach Concession sits.

4. Two new natural areas (with islands and intertidal marsh)

Something the draft focuses on is returning some of the landscape to a more natural state that may have existed before settlers arrived.

False Creek had a very different intertidal zone back then including saltwater marshes, and the draft reflects this former shoreline.

One area would be next to the western edge of English Bay Beach, where there's a small beach and a grassy area.

Significant landscape changes here would see an intertidal marsh area create a new island or islands just off-shore. The island would create not just a new habitat but also protect the shore (and marsh) from waves. Not everything would be a return to nature, though, as a boardwalk could be built out over the marsh.

A second "intertidal habitat" and salt marsh is proposed for the rocky shore east of the Inukshuk. This area is mostly boulders and rocks right now, with limited wildlife or plants. Again, the design is expected to bring a more natural feel to the area and help protect against the impacts of climate change.

5. Climate change and seawall changes

The draft proposal aims to prepare the area for climate change. That means higher tides and rougher storms.

"Over the next 80 years, sea levels are expected to rise by about one metre, with more frequent coastal storm surges predicted," state the draft authors.

As part of that, two sections of the seawall could be dismantled or buried, as it lies below the estimated flood area of high-impact storms. New pedestrian routes would be developed at higher levels.

At the same time, beaches could see changes, being raised and extended at the same time to help dissipate the energy from ocean waves.

6. Bathhouse gardens

The English Bay Bathhouse has been a staple of the area for decades, but it could evolve too, with gardens added to the area and some changes to its function.

Nearby terraced seating would be added, with a view over the beach.

7. Alexandra Park updated

Across the road from the bathhouse gardens would be an updated Alexandra Park. One of the oldest parks in the city, it's a quiet area with a loose stand of trees.

In the draft, the city suggests a more prominent bandstand than the 110-year-old current one, along with a new playground.

8. Two-way Beach Avenue

It's one of the more minor details in the draft, but drivers in the West End will be interested to see the potential for Beach Avenue west of Denman turned into a two-way street. Given the realignment of roads around Stanley Park that has happened over the last few years, it could affect how people leave the park.

There's also a note in the draft that the issue will be discussed with TransLink, and a new bus route could run to and from the park along Beach Avenue.

9. Forest and pavillion

Much of the draft shows the addition of more types of plants in the area, from "forest" to a "healing meadow." One area where forest may be planted is on the headlands where the Inukshuk stands.

Currently, the little man-made peninsula is fairly bare, but in addition to the trees, the draft suggests a covered pavilion with a view over one of the new marshes.