News / Vancouver

North Vancouver eyes Ferris wheel in flashy plans for waterfront

Imagine looking over to North Vancouver and seeing a giant Ferris wheel and a skating rink covered with LED lights with the backdrop of gorgeous mountain views.

That’s exactly what City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto is doing these days as his council prepares to decide on a $25-million proposal to develop the waterfront into a family-oriented public space full of shops and restaurants.

“I’m extremely pumped,” Mussatto said Monday after consultant Roger Brooks unveiled the plan to council last week. “The time is right, it’s exactly what North Vancouver needs, it’s what the region needs.”

The space east of the SeaBus terminal, called Site 5, has sat vacant since the province pulled funding for a national maritime centre in 2008. It temporarily housed beach volleyball courts in the summer months, but the city wants to turn the “waste area with a chain link fence around it” into a year-round “people place.”

The consultant said the plan was developed with input from more than 1,000 people. It’s crown jewel would be a covered skating rink five times the size of Robson Square in downtown Vancouver that would be converted into a water park for kids in the summer.

The plan also includes a stage, event space and shops and restaurants that stay open until 9 or 10 p.m..

The mayor says the plan has been extremely well received, though he admits some people are concerned about the costs.

But Mussatto believes if the city borrows the money to build the project, the cost would be recouped by renting out the retail space.

The Ferris wheel would be constructed with private finances in the second or third phase of the project, Mussatto said. He pointed to the success of Seattle’s Great Wheel, which saw 1 million riders and $11 million in revenue in just over a year of operation.

Council will decide whether to proceed with the project within a month.

“We’ve been talking about the potential of Lower Lonsdale for a lot of years,” Mussatto said. “It’s time to realize that potential.”

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