A new basement, new washrooms, new stairs, new doors and new floor finish — it will almost be a new Ferry Building if the District of West Vancouver succeeds in securing a federal government grant.
The district is seeking $1.8 million from the Canada-British Columbia Investing in Canada Infrastructure program for the Ferry Building Restoration project.
The restoration project will cost the district about $2.5 million, and that grant will go a long way in offsetting the cost. But there is no guarantee the district will receive the help to restore the building.
In fact, the district has been trying to secure grant funding since 2015 but hasn’t had much success. Considering the infrastructure grants are focussed on culture, community and recreation, the district hopes to get lucky this year.
Ferry Building could use that luck. The wood-frame building was constructed in 1913 to serve as the terminal and office of the ferry service. The building has historical value for its association with the ferry and the bus service, both of which were important to the development of West Vancouver.
A rare surviving structure from the municipality’s early history, it was designated as a Municipal Heritage Property in 1987 and now houses a municipal art gallery. Since 1989, it has showcased the work of important artists and brings in close to 40,000 visitors every year.
Even though it was rehabilitated in the 90s, this important West Vancouver landmark is in need for major restoration work. The district considers the building’s restoration a key priority, and it is a cornerstone of the district’s ambitious Ambleside Waterfront plan.
A 2014 assessment by district found “significant” concerns with the structural base of the building. The surveyors found evidence of rot by severe deterioration and moisture staining of sheathing. The restoration work would include removing hazardous waste including asbestos in vinyl floor tile and lead-containing material in exterior paint colours.
Other rehabilitation work includes new reinforced concrete foundation, new floors finishes, new wall insulation, new stairs and ramps, and a fresh coat of paint. Exterior doors and windows will be completely refurbished, and there will be a new wheelchair lift on second-floor stairway.
The building’s location on the waterfront also makes it vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and rising sea levels. To ensure the long-term viability of the ferry building, it will also be raised and moved to a higher location with accessible washrooms located under the building.