I'm a journalist who has worked throughout B.C., north to south. Filling in for a maternity leave as editor of Indulge magazine / Peace Arch News advertorial. For more: ca.linkedin.com/in/garstinmichaela · issuu.com/indulge/docs
I was surprised to come across this photo while digging through the West Vancouver Archives for another story.
It’s picture perfect — a pool overlooking Stanley Park and the Lions Gate Bridge on a sunny day.
Even though my parents and grandparents have lived on the North Shore for years, they never told me an outdoor pool existed at Ambleside Park 60 years ago.
The Kingsmen Pool opened on July 9, 1954 (the year the photo was taken) and was in use until 1977.
It cost $65,000 to build and was a collaboration between the Kingsmen’s Club, the public and local businesses.
But the pool had seen its day by the time the West Vancouver Aquatic Centre was built in 1976. It was deemed too costly to operate and, after 22 years of life, it was filled in. Plus, money was being lost due to the West Coast’s lengthy rainy seasons, despite the pool being heated.
Even though it was a long shot, this photo got me thinking.
With talk of Ambleside revitalization constantly being brought up at West Van council, would Ambleside ever be home to a similar pool?
With the success of the new West Vancouver Rec Centre nearby (numbers are exceeding expectations), the needs of swimmers are already being taken care of, district spokesman Jeff MacDonald told me.
So this image, shot 60 years ago, will have to remain in history.
West Vancouver is one of Canada’s wealthiest communities but boarded-up stores and empty lots have the mayor and others calling a certain section of the Ambleside-area a “shantytown.”
While this characterization is a stretch, the point they’re trying to make is that Ambleside desperately needs improvement.
And the nicknames don’t stop there.
“Our real estate agents refer to the 1300-block… as the Gaza Strip. A great comment on Canada’s most desirable residential community,” Mayor Michael Smith noted during a March council meeting. “It’s a disgrace. We’ve sat here as citizens and allowed it to go on.”
In the heart of Ambleside on the 1300-block, a building with boarded-up doors that has sat vacant since a fire in October is an example of how these unflattering nicknames began. Beside it an empty lot is fenced off until a gas station moves in.
A restaurant on Ambleside’s waterfront is a bad idea, according to many people who spoke up at a public hearing Monday evening.Along with food carts, sidewalk dining and festivals, it’s a possibility being considered for Ambleside revitalization.
A house currently sits at the prospective seaside lot on the 1400-block of Argyle Avenue, which the district now owns, but would be torn down if the restaurant is a go. The property would remain in the municipality’s possession while the full-service restaurant is run by a private owner.
But this restaurant shouldn’t be built, said some West Van residents at the public hearing.
“Why do we need the restaurant on the waterfront? We don’t,” said Ambleside resident Paul Hundal. “There’s no reason why people can’t walk across the street to Bellevue (Avenue).”