British Columbia

Bedroom community West Vancouver could soon be waking up to business, density

A report by B.C. Stats says between 2015 and 2016, West Vancouver's population dropped by 2.1 per cent, the largest year-over-year decrease of any B.C. municipality with at least 15,000 people. A city official says "thoughtful changes" are being planned.

More rentals, density and employment is focus of District efforts going forward

A view from Dundarave Park in West Vancouver. The District’s manager of economic development says 93 per cent of the tax base is residential. (District of West Vancouver)

West Vancouver lost nearly 900 citizens from 2015 to 2016 — the largest year-over-year decrease of any B.C. municipality with over 15,000 people — but the District's manager of economic development says that's no surprise.

Stephen Mikicich says with no industry, little business infrastructure, an aging population and sky-high housing costs, things will need to change for the community to remain viable.

"Even our current official community plan describes West Vancouver as a residential community, which in some respects really reinforces its character as a bedroom community," he told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

"Within that are associated very conservative and restrictive land-use policies. So we haven't really planned or put in place the tools we need to deliver the multi-family housing and options our community really needs."

Mikicich says there is a recognition that "thoughtful change" is required.

The community plan is under review and there is a focus on diversifying the economy to attract visitor spending and make it more friendly to new businesses.

"Our tax base is 93 per cent residential. Off the top of my head, a goal might be to bring that down to 75 per cent," he said.

Mikicich says West Vancouverites have built a nice quality of life for themselves in the community, and change is looked at with skepticism. He says West Vancouver shouldn't become a metropolis, but changes are needed.

He says efforts going forward will be focused on increase rental housing, increase density and provide employment opportunities, especially in tech and tourism.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast


To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: West Vancouver needs density and new business to thrive, official says

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated 15,000 people had left West Vancouver over a one-year period. That number is incorrect — in fact, fewer than 900 people had left West Vancouver.
    Jan 27, 2017 10:14 AM PT

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