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North Vancouver's The Shipyards receives international waterfront design award

'People always tell me how much they love our revitalized waterfront'
The Shipyards received top honours in the Waterfront Centre’s Excellence on the Waterfront Awards Program | Photo: City of North Vancouver

It turns out, it’s not just the locals who love the effort the City of North Vancouver has put into transforming The Shipyards into the vibrant destination it is today.

The city’s makeover of the waterfront area in Lower Lonsdale has been recognized for a second time this year, taking home another major award.

Earlier this month, The Shipyards received top honours in the Waterfront Centre’s Excellence on the Waterfront Awards Program, which was established in 1987 in the United States to recognize top-quality waterfront planning, design, and development work from around the world.

In March, the city was also recognized by the British Columbia Economic Development Association, receiving a community project award for its redevelopment of The Shipyards and commitment to supporting and expanding the local economy.

It was back in 2009 that city council endorsed the vision to “create a highly accessible waterfront that transformed the site into a dynamic community amenity and regional tourist attraction while supporting the port industry.”

Over the past decade, the city worked to transform its waterfront lands into a unique, interactive, year-round public space that now features restaurants, cafes, shops and services, two hotels, community event space, concerts, and markets, plus the region’s largest outdoor skating rink in the winter and a splash park in the summer. The revitalized area officially opened in July 2019 and has been a hit ever since.

“People always tell me how much they love our revitalized waterfront,” City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan said in a release.

“The Shipyards is of great historical and economic importance to our city, although it needed transformation for modern use. That is why the city has delivered a space that embraces our history, grows the economy in new ways, and offers vibrant and welcoming spaces for all people.”

The Waterfront Centre, a non-profit educational organization which formed in 1981, works to assist communities in waterfront development and raises awareness that urban waterfronts are important, special assets and, when redeveloped, can provide the opportunity for community enhancement and enrichment. 

Waterfront Centre awards judges were impressed with a number of features of The Shipyards, which took top marks in the award criteria including the sensitivity of the design to water, quality and harmony of design, civic contribution, environmental values, enrichment, and degree of difficulty.

The sensitivity of the design to water category looks at how the development has made use of the waterfront to provide active public access and enjoyment to and along the waterfront.

Quality and harmony of design section awards points for the design fitting into the surroundings and incorporating and celebrating the unique historic and cultural features of the community relating to the waterfront. 

For civic contribution, judges look at how the redevelopment has helped the economy, including how it boosts civic pride and how it has had a positive effect on the area. They also consider whether the development is sustainable and economically viable over the long run.

When it comes to the environment, judges look at if the development stresses environmental values. They also look at how the redevelopment is contributing to the overall cultural richness of the community with interpretive signs, displays, or other facilities to explain the area’s waterfront heritage and natural values and how it has been developed to overcome various obstacles.

It seems The Shipyards ticked a lot of boxes for the judges.  

“It’s an honour to take home the 2021 Excellence on the Waterfront award,” Buchanan said.

“I thank everyone who helped get us here.”

North Shore News