Meeting Notes from February

We had another well-attended and packed-with-news meeting on Thursday evening.

  • Character House Review

Javier Campos, president of Heritage Vancouver, gave a short presentation and initiated a dialogue about the City’s new Character House Review process. Javier is opposed to what he considers “extreme” heritage preservation rules which, he believes, is forcing the city to push the majority of new density onto arterials. He wants heritage preservation to be “flexible” and for heritage enthusiasts to accept change. He cited Shannon Mews as an “atrocious” example of what can happen.

He and Heritage Vancouver are opposed to the character review proposal, especially as it is neighbourhood-specific rather than city wide.  They believe that many neighbourhoods will be de-densified by the City’s proposals at the expense of other districts. It was noted that the Review applies to RT5 zones of which there are none in Grandview. Javier seemed opposed to the concept of RT zoning, noting that while some large houses have been saved by it, the “constraints” imposed by the zoning have been “terrible” for the development of most neighbourhoods.

It was noted that “character” does not infer “heritage” and that “heritage” does not equate necessarily to “character”. It was further noted that the west side of Vancouver does not enjoy duplex zoning in the same way that we do here in Grandview, and ot was suggested that such a change would be helpful.

There was a wide-ranging discussion. There will be an Urbanarium debate on this subject on March 8th, with Michael Kluckner and Javier on opposing sides.

  • Eric’s monthly Neighbourhood Update included discussions on:
    • the new report on the thousands of empty properties in Vancouver;
    • Brookhouse, where the asbestos shingling is being removed;
    • ongoing work at the old Bottle Depot on Victoria and William;
    • more land assemblies taking place in the south of the neighbourhood;
    • the now-closed Wonderbucks property on the Drive;
    • 1145 McLean, a house built by James Guinet in 1909 which, Eric noticed during reconstruction work, was balloon-framed, unusual for such a small house;
  • Coming Events:
    • There are a number of Heritage Foundation events that may be of interest;
    • The Friends of Vancouver Archives AGM is on 19th March with Aaron Chapman as guest speaker;
  • Heritage Evaluation:  Michael took us through the new evaluation criteria for the heritage registry which now takes cultural and social history into account. It is a “values-based” approach.
  • St. Francis of Assisi Development:  There was a brief discussion about the meeting held at SFA regarding their school development. There is no further news on this.
  • Donato’s House:  We confirmed that we will be installing a plaque for the oldest existing house in Grandview. Ther wording of the plaque is still to be finalised but we agreed it should be completed by next meeting.
  • Database Expansion:  Jak spoke briefly about the new entries to the Grandview Database.

Next Meeting: Thursday 16th February

Yes, it’s go to meeting time again!  We will met as usual at:

Britannia Boardroom, Napier Street at 7:00pm on Thursday 16th February 2017

The agenda is always open to suggestions from those at the meeting, but I am sure we will touch upon:

  • What’s happening in the neighbourhood;
  • City of Vancouver’s new Heritage Evaluation system,
  • St. Francis of Assisi development project;
  • Final edit on Donato’s plaque (oldest house in GV);
  • Developments in the GV database;
  • Early prep for No Car Day display

Plus lots more!   See you there!

Grandview Database v.10

We have today uploaded a new and updated version of the Grandview Database.

This version incorporates more than 750 additions and updates. Most of these additions have been taken from a review of newspapers from 1916 – 1924 and include different kinds of information than formerly. For example, more than 50 households had their contents auctioned (search: “auctioned off”), others were subject to robberies, and returning soldiers (search: “soldier” or “war”) are a feature. There are help wanted ads, work sought ads, births, marriages, deaths, even a divorce.

There are also significant additions to the details of retail and service companies both on Commercial Drive and elsewhere in Grandview.

With the inclusion of the 1000+ entries so far this year, the database is much livelier and more personalised than before.Some earlier errors on the 1700-block eastside of Commercial Drive and the 1700-block Venables have also been fixed.

 

Meeting Notes: January 2017

We had another great turnout for our first meeting of the year last night, and we managed to cover a great deal of ground.

  • Eric began with his regular What’s Happening in the Neighbourhood review
    • The Cultch’s Green House on Venables appears to be occupied now after an excellent program of renovation and restoration;
    • The old Bottle collection building on the corner of William and Victoria is now partially demolished and the structure can be seen as being constructed on concrete blocks;
    • It was noted that a large land assembly has been achieved at 11th & Victoria;
    • The continuing fine restoration work at 765 Victoria was noted;
    • Excavation seems to have started down at the old Iron Works;
    • The buildings at the old Bosa store at 540 Victoria, the condos opposite, and the Co-Housing development at 1st ad Victoria are all proceeding quickly;
    • the stumps for the trees removed at Grandview Park have now been ground down.
  • We discussed the potential for land assembly and development in the 1800-block westside of Commercial Drive (the Wonderbucks building) and Jak gave a brief history of the two buildings. It was agreed we should celebrate the history of the Wonderbucks building if it is threatened with demolition;
  • We reviewed the first proposal for the wording on the plaque to be placed at 1350 Graveley, site of the oldest house in Grandview. More editing required. There was also some discussion regarding grants for heritage restoration;
  • Following on from this discussion, and the fact that the house used to sit where a gas station stood for decades after, we had a long and interesting discussion about contamination in lots that were gas stations, dry cleaners, etc.;
  • After discussions with Via Tevere and acceptance of a budget of $1,025, it was agreed we will fix the Shelley’s sign. Victoria will be the artist, with assistance by Michael and Penny. The work to start when the weather settles;
  • We noted once again the continuing decline of the physical fabric at Brookhouse, 1870 Parker. There seems to be a dispute as to whether the City or the developer is causing the delays;
  • We briefly looked at the “temporary social housing” being installed at Main and Terminal;
  • We have been unable to secure a student this year from UBC Geography/History. We offered two possible topics for study (the 1979/1980 Community Plan process; and, GWAC in the 1970s) but neither were picked up. We will look for opportunities next year;
  • Neville reported on continuing developments at St Francis of Assisi and their desire to build a bigger and better school on Wilga gardens. There will be an open community meeting in the church hall, 2021 Napier, at 7pm on February 2nd;
  • It was noted that Wednesday 25th January is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Grandview Woodland Area Council;
  • Johhn raised the possibility of a federal tax incentive for retention of heritage homes. We look forward to more details later.

Update:  Re-examined research notes corrects the GWAC anniversary to Oct 25th rather than January 25th. My apologies for the error.

 

Our Racist Past

Ninety-eight years ago today, the Grandview Chamber of Commerce, supported by the Grandview Ratepayers Association, held

“an enthusiastic gathering of merchants and prominent men of the district, gathered to unite their efforts to drive out of the district of Grandview the Oriental … Speakers said they did not want Grandview to be overrun with Orientals, and they intended to see that it was not … Efforts are being made to induce the real estate dealers and owners who have already rented their premises to Orientals to give them notice to vacate, otherwise the names of those preferring a few dollars to the welfare of their district will be made public” – World 1919 Jan 14, p.12

It is often hard to interpret history without using the guiding views of our own age. It has to be remembered that discrimination against the Chinese, Japanese, and others was rampant throughout BC in 1919 across all classes and political beliefs. Less than a dozen years earlier, Vancouver had witnessed huge riots against immigration and the Komagata Maru incident was only five years before.

From today’s perspective, most of us would find this unacceptable. But in 1919?

Townsend & Townsend

Here is an interesting post from Scout magazine about the architects Townsend & Townsend and the “diapering” design they became known for during the golden age of Vancouver building before the First World War.

Although they are not mentioned in the article, the Drive has three Townsend & Townsend buildings, none of which have the famous design.  In fact, only one – the Alvarado Block on the corner of Commercial & Graveley — is in the their usual block style. The other two — 1511-1517 where the Shoppers Drug Store now is, and Joe’s Cafe — are very different creatures.

Good to know more about these folks.

 

Character House Review

To assist with some important work between now and the next GHG meeting, why not join Caroline Adderson in studying the City’s proposals for “character houses.”  Here is what Caroline has to say:

I just want to make sure you all know about the Character Home Rezoning review open houses which are winding up next week.  Rezoning is powerful tool that could save some of our remaining original housing stock; we only have 24% of it left.  In short, the reason these beautiful, enduring houses are being destroyed is that the lot they stand on is zoned for a bigger house.  Reduce the size of the new build, then the folks looking for a redevelopment site may look elsewhere, as currently happens in our RT zones.  As an added incentive to retain, and to balance the economics, the city proposes to offer “extras” for retention in the form of additions, infill, extra suites, etc.

The details of the open houses are below.  You can also fill out the survey on-line, though the implications of what they are asking are not always clear.  I found it helpful to be able to ask questions of staff in person.  There are also PDFs on the website to refer to.

Here are two recent articles that you may also find informative:

http://vancouversun.com/opinion/opinion-city-hall-must-act-quickly-to-save-vancouver-heritage-homes
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/stop-the-clear-cut/article33052442/

It is crucial that the public support these changes or they will not happen.  Please, please, please participate.  Feel free to share this email with concerned friends.  No need to reply to this email.

Sincerely,

Caroline Adderson

Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, 5 – 9 pm 
PNE Hastings Room, 2901 East Hastings St. (Gate 2, Forum Gate)
 
Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, 5 – 9 pm 
Town Hall Hellenic Centre, 4500 Arbutus St

ONLINE SURVEY FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO JOIN THE MAILING LIST
A survey will also be available on our website starting November 21. vancouver.ca/characterhomereview