A new report is calling on the District of West Vancouver to plan a new dense neighbourhood along the bottom of Cypress Bowl Road. The idea is to concentrate development of the so-called Upper Lands in that area, while reserving much of the rest for a large new park.

The Upper Lands, above the Upper Levels Highway and between the British Properties and Cypress Provincial Park, is almost 2,500 hectares of public and private property representing just over one-quarter of West Vancouver’s total land area.

The issue for the district is balancing the needs of a sensitive ecosystem, while leaving room for recreational opportunities and future neighbourhoods.

A citizen’s group that was charged with updating a decade-old district study of the Upper Lands is calling on council to preserve as much parkland as possible by concentrating new development in a small area. The citizens’ working group was asked to re-examine the plan because new environmental information had become available and because the district now has a master plan for parks.

“Working groups can step outside of the day-to-day operations of the municipality and look at the big picture from a citizen’s perspective,” explained David Hawkins, a district senior planner who served as a staff liaison to the group.

The group’s chief suggestions for the Upper Lands include not allowing development above 1,200 feet (365 metres) elevation or west of Eagle Creek, and shifting density to the future Cypress Village, thereby preventing housing sprawl.

That leaves the potential for a 1,250-hectare park in the area above 1,200 feet — the most ecologically sensitive area.

British Pacific Properties owns most of the property below 1,200 feet, but also has some significant holdings higher up. It’s being recommended that the district purchase private lands above 1,200 feet that abut district property.

The concept of a mixed-use mountainside village at the base of Cypress excites Ashley Willard Bauman, who co-chaired the citizens’ group.

“I think Cypress Village has the opportunity to create something we are not seeing in the world right now — a wonderful mixed-use urban village that becomes like a gateway to a mountainside that is 20 minutes from a downtown centre,” said Bauman.

The idea would be to build trails to connect nearby Rodgers Creek to the new Cypress Village.

]”It’s only logical that you connect them up,” said Coun. Michael Lewis. “This idea of trading density on the far west of the community for more density around the proposed potential Cypress Village area — that makes a lot of sense.”

Planning for Cypress Village could begin later this year, with a final report going to council in June.