City of North Vancouver – The Shipyards: Destination

2021 BC Economic Development Award Winner

The Wallace Shipyards opened in 1906 and became one of the most impressive industrial operations in Canada. During World War II, it was the largest employer of shipyard labour in BC and produced 109 of the 312 Canadian-made “Victory Ships,” officially closing its operation in the 1990’s.

Drawing inspiration from its rich industrial shipbuilding history set in a modern urban environment, The Shipyards and Waterfront Development began in 2007 when the City saw an opportunity to activate the historic waterfront site. Over the course of a decade, The Shipyards transformed into a multi-use public space utilizing original infrastructure including Shipbuilders Square, Burrard Dry Dock Pier and St. Roch Dock.

In 2019, the City and its partners unveiled The Shipyard Commons, a 20,000 square foot dynamic programming space including seasonal amenities. The Commons features a 12,000 square foot public Skate Plaza during the winter and an 8,000 square foot Splash Park during the summer. Paired with commercial vendors, accommodation providers, seasonal and annual programming, events and festivals – The Shipyards is a dynamic waterfront tourism destination.

Uniquely positioned as a gateway to the North Shore, The Shipyards attracts visitors arriving from Vancouver via the SeaBus as well as pedestrians and cyclists from neighbouring North Shore municipalities along the Spirit Trail with innovative year-round programming and animation for all demographics. Creative programming includes artisanal markets, recreation and wellness activities, cultural events, community gatherings and crafted culinary experiences.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Shipyards continued to offer the 20,000 square foot outdoor covered space to the public in addition to designated outdoor areas for safe, physically distant gatherings. Public spaces were equipped with picnic tables, bistro tables, chairs and fire pits for household enjoyment. Background music complimented the covered outdoor venue, allowing families and individuals to use the space at their leisure.

The goal of this project is to create a unique, interactive, year-round destination including commercial and community amenity spaces. The site features two hotels as well as conference/event spaces at the Pinnacle Hotel, Pipe Shop and the Wallace Venue and complements existing infrastructure at Lonsdale Quay, the Polygon Gallery and the upcoming North Vancouver Museum.

The Shipyards as a destination offers a variety of options for tourism, connecting and positioning all North Shore municipalities (City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, District of West Vancouver, Squamish First Nation and Tsleil-Waututh First Nation) for a tourism stay-cation model during the Covid-19 pandemic while creating economic opportunities for local businesses and social community connection.

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