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Developers are hoping to give visitors a big new reason to take the SeaBus to North Vancouver.

A massive Ferris wheel built on a pier adjacent to the Lonsdale Quay is among major changes envisioned for a piece of North Vancouver waterfront at the foot of Lonsdale Avenue.

The $25-million development plan, unveiled this week at a council meeting, aims to transform a little-used, industrial shipyard into a tourist mecca and nighttime hot spot, according to an article in the Vancouver Sun. Work could begin on the project in as little as 18 months.

Apart from the giant Ferris wheel, the “Central Waterfront” area will feature a 21,000-square-foot, multi-use amphitheatre.  In colder weather, the space will serve as a skating rink that’s five times bigger than the one in Robson Square. In the summer, it will be a water park with erupting fountains.  The fountains can also be turned off, enabling the facility to be used as a open-air concert venue with a full stage.

Plans are for the redeveloped waterfront to be open as late as 10 p.m. throughout the week, offering a family-oriented nightspot after daytime attractions like Granville Island’s Public Market have closed.

The scheme, intended to lure travellers across the Burrard Inlet to the North Shore, is the vision of developer Roger Brooks. A onetime concert promoter, Brooks has earned international renown for transforming underused urban spaces and communities into must-visit attractions.  He led the highly successful initiative to rebrand Whistler into Whistler Blackcomb, a single destination and resort village as opposed to two separate, smaller resorts.

Other changes proposed along the waterfront include a new wheeled trolley that will service Lonsdale Avenue every 15 minutes, shuttling people to and from the new park.  In addition, plans are in the works to spruce up the SeaBus terminal in nearbyLonsdale Quay, which sits just west of the site and is the first stop on the North Shore for many visitors.  Specifically, the long, dark tunnel exiting the terminal will be brightened up with water walls and neon art.

An artist's rendering of the new Central Waterfront area in North Vancouver

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