Vancouver city councilors and port officials traded in their blazers for life vests Monday, as they took to the water for a unique perspective of the city’s changing shoreline.
Aboard the Vancouver Fire Department’s boat, Discovery, councilors joined the Port of Vancouver board of commissioners for a joint meeting riverfront tour.
“We all talk about being a riverfront city. It seems like for the last decade, about every fifth word out of our mouth at the city has been ‘waterfront,’” said Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes, who described the tour as an opportunity for officials to discuss the challenges of future development.
The boat tour began upriver at Tidewater Cove and showcased the ways the waterfront is currently being used, from recreation and tourism to maritime operations at the Port of Vancouver.
“It was impressive to see how the river knits together everything from commercial to industrial,” said port Commissioner Jerry Oliver.
One of the most significant changes is the redevelopment of the city’s waterfront. An area that used to be primarily industrial land will soon have restaurants, hotels and apartment buildings.
Plans for the port property at Terminal 1 also include a public market space. The city of Vancouver is working with Gramor Development on their side of the $1.5 billion project. New restaurants and bars, a waterfront pier and more than 3,000 new residential units are in the works.
“It’s the center of a lot of activity,” said Chad Eiken, Vancouver’s community and economic development director. He estimates that close to a quarter of the construction is already complete.
The city of Vancouver plans to hold a grand opening celebration on Sept. 29.
As the boat went under the Interstate 5 bridge, Holmes pointed out that pieces of Vancouver history still remain on the river. Just down river from the construction cranes and the developing waterfront are remnants of the former Kaiser shipyards from World War II.
“It illustrates that the decisions that we make today have impacts on generations in the future and what legacy we leave for them to be stewards,” Holmes said. “We need to be very thoughtful about the kinds of investments we make here on the waterfront.”