Delta council gave preliminary approval this week to bylaw changes that will pave the way for the revitalization of Ladner's waterfront.
"The goal is to initiate the redevelopment of the downtown Ladner waterfront area to achieve a vibrant, people-oriented environment, with strong linkages to the waterfront, reflecting and celebrating the historical roots of the community," said Thomas Leathem, Delta's director of community planning and development.
Delta initiated the revitalization process in 2009 with the establishment of the Downtown Ladner Waterfront Redevelopment Advisory Committee. The committee has been meeting with property owners and the public to discuss the future of the area.
A consultant's report last year recommended encouraging unique destination restaurants and retailers as well as more businesses from the food and beverage industry. Last December, Delta announced the selection of Quay Property Management to submit a detailed proposal for the redevelopment of the civic-owned properties along the waterfront that are hoped to be the catalyst to reinvigorate the area.
On Monday night, civic politicians gave preliminary approval to the Official Community Plan (OCP) amendments that will help facilitate the implementation of the vision that has been more than two years in the making.
"We've come a long way," said Coun, Scott Hamilton, who took over as chair of the advisory committee after the death of George Hawksworth. "We've got a lot accomplished... I think we're real close to ratcheting this down."
The proposed amendments include adding a wider range of uses, such as recreational and specialized commercial on the harbour. Other proposed changes include an increase in building heights from two to two-and-a-half storeys on the north side (waterfront) of Chisholm Street and from two to four storeys on the south side of the street.
There were concerns voiced around the council table about the increase in building height and the impact increased development will have on parking in Ladner Village.
Leathem said the proposal to allow up to four storeys on the south side of Chisholm was based mostly on economics, but that height is also consistent with what is seen around Ladner and in Tsawwassen.
"In terms of height, it's been made very clear to us throughout this entire process it's a matter of economics," Hamilton said. "We keep it two storeys, and I'm not prejudging this as we're not at the public hearing yet, but we've been told perfectly clear that if we keep it two storeys we are not going to spawn, we are not going to attract the type of development that people are looking for, that developers are looking for."
Hamilton also said the consultants brought in to work on the project said the parking issues in Ladner Village can be resolved through better management.
"It's a management problem, it's not a capacity problem," he said.
"We've opened the door for all sorts of good new things that we can do down there," said Coun. Ian Paton, who co-chairs the advisory committee, adding that bringing about change on Ladner's waterfront is not just up to the municipality.
"The whole thing depends on private individuals who own property down on Chisholm Street... It's not all going to happen overnight but I think we've got a good start."
Leathem said the proposed amendments would be referred to the advisory committee. Staff plans on consulting with the Ladner Business Association and holding another public meeting before bringing the amendment bylaw back to council.