Does West Vancouver support building a nature house at a heritage site on the waterfront? The district is putting this question to the community once again.
In March this year, the district asked residents in a survey if $2 million should be spent on the Navvy Jack Nature House. Only 50.9 per cent of the respondents supported the project. Not satisfied with the result, now the district has launched another survey to gauge the public mood.
The district says the earlier survey was limited in its scope. “The budget survey had a very small number of respondents and it did not include sufficient background information on the proposal, so it cannot be considered true public consultation,” said Donna Powers, the director of community relations and communications. That’s why the council directed the staff to conduct a thorough consultation and report back this fall, she added.
The restoration project will create a nature house and recreate the 1909 version of the house. The survey presents three options, with costs ranging from $1,300,000 to $2,314,000.
The annual operating cost is projected to be $110,000. If and when it is built, the Navvy Jack Nature House will have indoor and outdoor environmentally-themed programmes and events for children, youth and families; heritage programmes; and a rental space for private functions.
The survey ends on Monday, September 30, 4 pm.
Powers also said the nature house was first conceived in 2013, but couldn’t move forward because the house was rented out to Lloyd Williams, who lived there until his death in 2017. “Since then, the district has conducted studies to inform what our options are, and that is what we will consult the community on through August and September,” she said.
The district wants to know if the community supports the concept of the nature house, restoration of the heritage house or building a new facility. The district is also interested in knowing if the public would support using Community Amenity Contribution to build the nature house.
The house at 1768 Argyle Avenue was built by Navvy Jack. Navvy Jack, whose real name was John Thomas, was a pioneer who came from Wales, He bought the property on the waterfront to build a home for his bride, the daughter of Chief Capilono, in 1874. The house was bought and rebought until the district bought it in 1991 from Lloyd Williams, with whom the district signed a life-tenancy agreement.
It was in 2013 that the council told the staff to work on a business plan for a nature house at the site. The idea, spearheaded by West Vancouver Streamkeepers Society, was to create an “exciting, new, intergenerational, multi-educational experience—a nature house showcasing the natural beauty of our community.”