What should be built on the banks of our “great wet central park”? The mayor’s marina? The developers’ condos? Or the environmentalists’ parkland?

This question seems to vex our politicians, according to the TD.

But the city’s quest for a marina and more parkland along the James River faces scrutiny from a skeptical City Council and developers who have other ideas how to use the land.

Ahh, the cozy warm feelings I get when “City Council and developers” are mentioned in the same sentence.

For grammatical and conceptual clarity, I’d love to know who the “who” is in the phrase “who have other ideas…” Does it refer to the developers only? Or both the council and developers?

Oh the curse of English language ambiguities. And shoddy journalism.

At issue seems to be the Echo Harbor development, which council might support(?), and Wilder apparently opposes.

“We have made it clear that we’re not interested in any of these high-rise apartments on the river,” Wilder said after a recent public appearance.

Really? None? I thought Wilder had bought a high-rise condo unit on the river. So I guess the “any” refers to future riverfront condos? Or just ones where he wants his marina?

Well, whatever our politicians think, I have a suggestion. And I’m confident all my loyal readers will rally around and help change the political discourse in this town, right?

So without further ado, here’s my idea: Build them all. Here’s some pictures from a city that’s done just that.

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Vancouver’s Coal Harbour (before being built out).

Notice the strip of green and the little circle of green. Those are waterfront parks. There’s a walkway/bicycle path along the entire length of the waterfront, and a marina. And those 3 high-rises closest to the green space are condos (more have been built since this picture was taken).

Here’s some additional pictures:

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One of the waterfront parks with landscaping and public art, photo by mussels.

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The marina, notice the walkway/bicycle path along the water. Photo by camera obscura.

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All the shiny condos with a waterfront walkway/bicycle path. Photo by mussels.

OK, I know you’re sick of my endless promotion of Vancouver, BC. But as I was reading the TD’s account of political bickering, I thought to myself, why can’t we make everyone happy for a change?

Vancouver’s Coal Harbour was a waterfront industrial wasteland that was turned into a public asset with a waterfront promenade, sidewalk cafes, parks, a community centre, and living spaces. And if you want a piece of that real estate, it’ll cost you more than a few loonies. Check it out here.

Sounds a bit like our own James River- Lucky Strike, Lehigh Cement, Fulton gas works… Now Tobacco Row, Vistas on the James, Rocketts Landing. There’s no reason that waterfront condos necessarily preclude parks, marinas, and public access to the river when planned and built well.

And that’s all I’m saying. I’m not supporting the Echo Harbor proposal (nor am I opposing it). I’m not suggesting we copy Vancouver’s architectural aesthetic.

I’m suggesting that when it comes to developing the waterfront of the James River, it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too.

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