Shipyards Receives Top Honours for Excellence on the Waterfront

August 24, 2021

The Shipyards received top honours in the ‘Excellence on the Waterfront Awards Program’ from the Waterfront Centre which was established in 1987 in the United States to recognize top-quality waterfront planning, design and development work from around the world.

Over the past decade, the City has transformed its waterfront lands into a unique, interactive, year-round public space that includes over 85,000 square feet of commercial and community amenity space. 

The Shipyards is now a dynamic waterfront tourism destination that features restaurants, cafes, shops and services, two hotels, space for community events, concerts and markets, plus the region’s largest outdoor skating rink in the winter and a splash park in the summer. 

“People always tell me how much they love our revitalized waterfront,” said Mayor Linda Buchanan. “The Shipyards is of great historical and economic importance to our City although it needed transformation for modern use. That is why the City has delivered a space that embraces our history, grows the economy in new ways, and offers vibrant and welcoming spaces for all people. It’s an honour to take home the 2021 Excellence on the Waterfront award and I thank everyone who helped get us here.”

The redevelopment of The Shipyards provides local businesses with an opportunity to expand and grow as part of a lively waterfront destination that attracts local and regional visitors and is home to creative year-round programming, events and attractions and unique seasonal experiences. Public spaces at The Shipyards have been reimagined to support local businesses and provide family friendly, safe and welcoming spaces for people to connect and socialize through expanded outdoor patios and outdoor alcohol approved zones in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Shipyards took top marks in meeting the following award criteria:

  • Sensitivity of the design to water: making use of the waterfront to provide active public access and enjoyment to and along the waterfront.
  • Quality and harmony of design: fitting into the surroundings and incorporating/celebrating the unique historic and cultural features of the community relating to the waterfront. 
  • Civic contribution: helping the economy, boosting civic pride and having a positive affect on the area and the work being sustainable and economically viable over the long run.
  • Environmental: stressing environmental values.
  • Enrichment: contributing to the overall cultural richness of the community with interpretive signs, displays or other facilities to explain the area’s waterfront heritage and natural values.
  • Degree of difficulty: overcoming various obstacles.

The awards are selected by an interdisciplinary panel made up of professional planners, designers, city officials and representatives from business, community and development sectors. The awards were announced earlier this month. 

The Waterfront Centre is a non-profit educational organization formed in 1981 with the goal to assist communities and professionals in making the wisest and best long-term uses of waterfront resources for maximum public benefit. The Centre raises awareness that urban waterfronts are important, special assets and that when redeveloped provide the opportunity for community enhancement and enrichment. 

This is the second major award The Shipyards has received in the past year. In March, the City also won top honours from the British Columbia Economic Development Association (BCEDA) receiving a Community Project Award for its redevelopment of The Shipyards in Lower Lonsdale and commitment to supporting and expanding the local economy.

The City is working closely with its partners, stakeholders and local businesses to deliver a dynamic public realm that supports the economic needs of the community.

The Shipyards has a long history of prosperity and innovation in the region. In 2009, City Council endorsed the vision to create a highly accessible waterfront that transformed the site into a dynamic community amenity and regional tourist attraction while supporting the significant port industry for the benefit of future generations. Through the tremendous work of Mayor, City Council and staff, the internationally acclaimed community public space opened in July 2019.

For more information about The Shipyards visit


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