GWAC Founded 51 Years Ago Today

In the early 1960s there was great concern about the health, welfare and education of children in Grandview, and the apparent slumming down of the neighbourhood in general.  In that period, much of the health and welfare delivery system was in the hands of United Community Services (UCS, which eventually morphed into United Way). On March 1st 1964, specifically to deal with these concerns, UCS created the Woodland Park Area Resources Council (WPARC), the first local area council in Vancouver.

In the beginning, the WPARC was composed of health, welfare and education professionals, and they produced a number of useful reports.  It was the vanguard of a new style of welfare planning.  In the spring of 1965, UCS issued a press release that noted: “A program called the Local Area Approach will combine health, social welfare, education and recreation services in a concerted attack on social problems in selected geographical areas of Vancouver … Local community planning and self –help will be stressed.”  Much of this was designed from the work that WPARC had already completed.

You might notice the name features “Woodland Park” rather than “Grandview”.  That was because most of the “difficult areas” in the neighbourhood were in the north and west.  In fact, WPARC worked very closely with Strathcona, our north-western neighbour.  The relationship was so close, in fact, that the first organization map from December 1966 showed them linked:

UCS map December 1966In August 1966, it was “anticipated that there will be a combining of the two local area planning operations in these adjoining areas with the formation of one Local Area Council.”  However, by December 1966, it could be said that “while the amalgamation of the Woodland Park and Strathcona Area Councils was seriously considered, it was mutually agreed separate but related local planning operations should be maintained.”

While it began life controlled by health and welfare professionals, the WPARC always had a mandate to gradually include more and more community representatives, and it fulfilled this mandate with enthusiasm. In 1966, the chairman W.C. McLaren reported that the “Woodland Park Area Resources Council includes representatives from as great a cross section of the community as possible.”   In fact, by the summer of 1967, virtually all the Executive Council members were locals. On 25th October 1967, a motion passed changing the name to Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC). The name was changed so that “citizens of Grandview could identify more closely with the community service work the Council is attempting to do.”

100 Years Ago Today in Grandview

On 27th February 1915, while the world settled in to a major European War, the following ads were run in “The Vancouver Daily World” (p.16):

  • “$75 cash, $20 monthly, inclusive price only $1,550, buys a new well-built modern bungalow on First Avenue, close to Commercial Drive; has full basement, bath, toilet, open fireplace, best electric fittings on full garden lot, 32 x 122 to lane.”
  • “1948 2nd Avenue, 3-room house, 66′ lot all fenced, $660 easy terms.
  • “Modern 5-room house, Napier Street, full plumbing, furnace etc and in good repair; $6 per month to a responsible tenant.”

 

Daring Hold-Up In Grandview!

I was researching something this morning and came across the following story from “The Vancouver Daily World” of 10th January 1910 which illustrates what parts of Grandview and Vancouver were like at that time:

*****

“A daring attempted holdup was made on a laundry driver Saturday night at 6 o’clock, when three men pointed three revolvers at S. Robinson and ordered him to hold up his hands. The driver’s presence of mind stood him in good stead, and whipping his horse, drove off at a furious gait amid a fusilade of revolver shots.

The driver was accosted by three masked men as he was proceeding along Third Avenue, Grandview. Robinson had been delivering parcels in the 1900 block when he saw two men approach the rig while another stood on the sidewalk about 10 feet away, also flourishing a gun. As soon as he found out the nature of the visit, Robinson drew his whip and applied it stealthily to his horse with good effect. A secfond command to stop was given which was also unheeded. Then the three opened fire on the wagon and its single occupant. Two bullet holes, one below the driver’s seat and the other in the side of the cover, remain to show what a close call the driver had and the desperate characters implicatedair.in the affair.

At the time of the attempted holdup Robinson had $87 on his person, much of it in silver. It is evident that the would-be highwaymen had been following the movements of the rig and its driver for some time, as at this particular point most of his parcels had been delivered and consequently he carried more money. The point of the hold up is at a dark place on Third Avenue, and is frequented by pedestrians but very little.

Owing to the darkness and in his hurry to escape, the driver was unable to learn much regarding the description of the men. He states that the three men are of medium height and build, while one of the men wore a brown slouch hat. Later on in the evening as Robinson was finishing delivering his load of laundry on Park [Commercial] Drive he saw three men who looked very much like those implicated in the attempted holdup get into a buggy and dfrive rapidly down Park Drive towards Venables Street.  Owing to the snow, which was falling thickly at the time, Robinson was unable to state whether the rig turned east or west when reaching Venables.

Within twenty minutes the police were at the scene of the holdup, and although they searched the neighbourhood thoroughly, no trace of the men could be found … The theory advanced by the police is that a band of desperate characters are camping in the vicinity of the city in Hastings making nightly visits to the city while they spend the day in seclusion in the fastness of the forest somewhere in Hastings townsite.

This is the fourth occurence of this nature within the city within the past three weeks.Two were unsuccessful, while $8.75 were taken from a young man on Victoria Drive under a street light last month, and more recently two masked men succeeded in robbing a street car conductor at the point of revolvers at the terminus of the Powell Street line last week.”

 

The Maritime Mural

Thanks to Blair Redlin who has pointed out a story in the Vancouver Sun regarding the need for a new future for the wonderful 1947 mural that currently decorates a wall in the Maritime Labour Centre at Victoria and Triumph.

muralThe  magnificent mural was painted in 1947 by Fraser Wilson and was carefully moved from its original site at the old Marine Workers and Boilermakers Hall at 339 W. Pender in the mid-1980s.   Now, the 85′ artwork needs to be moved again for its own safety.

Mark Gordienko of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union thinks it’s time to put out “feelers” to find a new home for the artwork. “People want to be sure that the mural will be looked after,” said Gordienko. “And I think it would be. I’d like to see it someplace along the waterfront, myself. It is limited where it could be. The (grain) terminals wouldn’t make any sense, but Canada Place or the Convention Centre would be great. It’s a snapshot of resource development in B.C. and the Vancouver waterfront.”

If you have never seen this extraordinary piece of labour and Vancouver history, make some excuse to go to the Centre and take a look.  You will not be disappointed.

 

Notes To February Meeting

Once again we had a full house for our meeting on 19th February. We covered a lot of ground and had two very special visitors.

  • Eric began the meeting by taking us through some of the changes in the neighbourhood that we have noticed over the past month or so. These included the sale of a heritage house at 918 Salsbury for $1.6m, along with other houses being sold or modified (or seemingly being abandoned) on William, Kitchener, McSpadden, E. 1st, E.4th, and E 5th. We looked once again at the damage to Beckwoman’s building after the fire there, and the potential loss of the BC Mills House behind it. This section ended with a discussion about the potential for loss in the apartment area west of Commercial due to renoviction.
  • Up next was one of the 25 video interviews that Bruce has completed as part of the Grandview Seniors’ project.  This one was an interview with Jack Burch who was owner, editor and publisher of “The Highland Echo” from 1947 to the mid-1990s. Mr. Burch’s family moved to Vancouver in 1923 when he was one year old, and settled at 3rd and Nanimo in 1928. We were privileged to have Mr Burch, aged 92, and his wife Jean as visitors to the meeting, and it was an especial treat to hear him talk about growing up in Grandview in the 1930s (including meeting with the residents of the Depression hobo camp on Clark) and how he and his family ran The Echo for so long. He presented the group with four beautifully framed copies of The Echo from various times in its history. These will be treasured and, hopefully, will form part of a Grandview Museum at the revitalized Britannia Centre.
  • We talked about the plaque the group had affixed to the Shelly’s Bakery sign two years ago. The sun and elements have made it quite unreadable. It was decided the simplest solution will be to replace the plaque with a new one.  Michael agreed to handle that this during March.
  • A First Nations’ artist Tania Willard is proposing to erect a piece of art at the Grandview Cut. We agreed to meet with her to discuss the proposal during our March meeting.
  • Penny suggested that we prevent the destruction of heritage houses for sale in the neighbourhood by assisting with an historical overview of any such property which we could offer to the agent as a value-add.  Penny and Dorothy agreed to work on a format and Jak agreed to do the research for 2172 Adanac, currently for sale, as a test case.
  • In a brief Q & A session at the end of the meeting, one of the local oweners presented a heritage column base that needs replacement and asked for advice. A number of suggestions were made.

Our next meeting will be on 19th March.

Next Meeting, Thursday 19th February

Happy Heritage Week! We invite you to celebrate with us on Thursday night by coming to the Grandview Heritage Group meeting, 7:00, in the Info Centre Board Room at Britannia.

We have a few good things planned for the agenda, including:

*  A short installment in Eric Phillips’s talks on old houses and changes in the Grandview neighbourhood over the decades.

*  Bruce Macdonald has been interviewing some of Grandview’s old-timers, and he will be showing us an interview he did recently with Jack Burch, who was owner/editor of the Highland Echo for many years.

*  We’ll also be reporting on the gradually-vanishing Shelly’s sign plaque on the side of Via Tevere.

Please bring your questions, concerns, heritage issues, and ideas… Tell your friends and neighbours. And we’ll see you on Thursday night!

York Theatre Anniversary

Seventy-five years ago today, the then-newly renovated theatre in the 600-block of Commercial Drive was opened and re-named as the York Theatre.

The theatre, previously called the Palace, had been operated by the Vancouver Little Theatre Society since the 1920s. During the late 1930s, the group had fundraised enough money for a complete refurbishment of the building, including a new street-facing front. The work was completed in February 1940 and the new York Theatre was re-opened.

This building is not to be confused with the modern York Theatre put up on the site a couple of years ago; a building that has no relevance to the design of the heritage structure.

Notes To January Meeting

We had another full house for our monthly meeting on Thursday, and it was an interesting one.

  • Eric Phillips continued his marvelous Mechanicals and Materials series, this time with a lively discussion of what and how to keep records of your house. Using his own home as an example, he talked about property records, such as building permits, ownership and residency changes, and making an inventory of building components, such as mouldings, tiles, fireplaces, original paint colours and wallpaper designs, etc. He went on to explain the value of documenting, with images preferably, renovations made, including discoveries exposed during such renovations. He closed with ideas for maintaining these records in what he thought could be a House Manual.
  • We then discussed changes in various buildings around the neighbourhood including Brookhouse (becoming ever more derelict), Rob Wynen’s old house (in which the interior has been gutted, and the Brandon Block in the 1700-block of Commercial Drive where building/renovation work in the basement and the upstairs apartments is ongoing. The impending sale of both the Odlin Block in the 1600-block and 2064 Commercial were mentioned. The latter is being sold with the assumption that the 1945 building will be demolished.
  • Michael Kluckner led a very informative discussion on how heritage buildings are evaluated in Canada, in general, and in Vancouver in particular.  He went through the creation of Statements of Significance and how those documents are evaluated and edited, and he also explained in detail the scoring system used to give buildings an A, B, or C in Vancouver’s Register.  He closed by discussing current efforts to formalize building descriptions, mainly through roof styles.
  • It was noted that the deadline for applications for the City of Vancouver Heritage Awards is 2nd February.
  • Penny Street circulated the old photographs that Ron Segev found within the walls during renovation of his house at 1746 E. 3rd.
  • We briefly noted that our heritage plaque at Via Tevere has essentally disappeared through reaction with elements in the atmosphere.  We will endeavour to find a more permanent replacement.
  • Finally, we briefly discussed another intervention on behalf of Grandview heritage into the still-ongoing Community Plan process.  Jak will circulate the 2012 document that we sent to the City in advance of the Plan.
  • Our next meeting will be on the third Thursday of February in the Britannia Boardroom at 7pm.

Update to January 15th agenda

We will be talking about the following items at our meeting this coming Thursday from 7-9 pm in the Britannia boardroom:

• Eric Phillips will be talking about his “old house hope chest.” The presentations on wood (and on the 1960s rec room) have been postponed.

• Michael Kluckner will explain the system for Evaluation of Heritage Buildings, as described in the previous post below.

Vancouver Heritage Awards nominations, as described below.

• Penny Street will talk about photos recently brought to our attention by Ron Segev, who found them while renovating a house on 3rd.

• We will put together a plan to replace the deteriorated information sign at the Shelly’s 4x/Via Tevere site at Williams and Victoria.

• Discussion on the sale of the Bosa Building on Victoria Drive and implications thereof.

• Citizens Assembly progress will round out the evening.

Next meeting on January 15th, 7 pm …

… as always in the Britannia boardroom just past the Napier Greenway on the north side.

Happy New Year! The Grandview Heritage Group was founded in 2011 and is an informal group interested in both the past and future of the community. Everyone is welcome.

Agenda items so far:

• The biennial Vancouver Heritage Awards nomination process is underway with a deadline of February 2nd. There will be discussion of whether local projects ought to be nominated and how to proceed.

• Michael Kluckner will be giving an overview of the evaluation of heritage buildings in the city: how they get nominated for the heritage register, the Statement of Significance process, how they are scored and placed into A, B and C categories. For those who want to bone up on the subject in advance, go to the following links:

– To view the heritage register and some background information, go here. A more interactive (but incomplete) map is here.

– To study the scoring methodology, use this link.

Eric Phillips will be adding another presentation to his “Mechanics and Materials” series on the ins and outs of vintage houses, this one probably focusing on plywood. There may in addition be, subject to time, a brief look at How to Build a Rec Room c. 1960.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you inherited one of these beauties in your Grandview house, this may be the source.

• Blair Redlin reported that the Bosa Building at 562 Victoria Drive has been sold; the Montessori school in the same building at the north end is apparently closing. Fifteen townhouses are going in on the old grocery store site across the street that has been vacant for many years, and more townhouses and other forms of condo have replaced the affordable rental housing on sites along Adanac. We will discuss the future of grandfathered commercial uses on Victoria Drive and the other issues, such as rentals and affordability.

• There will doubtless be some discussion of the Citizens Assembly and the continuing saga of the Grandview area plan.

• Previous meetings have featured information on the city’s Heritage Action Plan. One part of it that may eventually have some meaning for the single-family areas of Grandview (i.e. the southeast part of the neighbourhood with RS zoning) is the pending policy to discourage demolitions of “character houses.”

Here’s the main document on that part of the plan. Below are the paragraphs that may eventually have an impact on Grandview.

Pre-1940 Character House Assessment across the rest of the City
Action 6 of the HAP directed staff to amend the RS (single family) District Schedules (zoning regulations) using the RT District Schedules as a model to encourage retention. Pending the completion of the HAP, staff have established an interim procedure for considering development applications involving pre-1940 houses. Staff are now seeking further information from inquirers proposing to demolish a building of potential heritage or character value. The first step in the process now includes a determination of whether the existing building is of character merit.

Staff have prepared a bulletin outlining the interim character assessment procedure (Appendix C). The procedure utilizes a date (pre-1940) threshold as an initial criterion. Then staff will review a number of surviving, prescribed character features such as:

  the authentic or period massing 

  roof form 

  front porch 

  exterior wall materials 

  window openings and frames and details.


These character criteria are currently utilized in a number of zoning districts (RT-3, RT-7/8, RT-10, RM-1 and RT-11). 
This interim approach is now being applied in zoning districts where the character criteria does not currently exist (i.e. RS-3, RS-5, etc.), and where conditional zoning provisions can be used to incentivize character preservation such as increased density, or height, or changes to setbacks . These conditional zoning areas represent approximately 23% of the one and two family zoning areas in the city (see Map 1) located generally in Arbutus, Dunbar and Kerrisdale.

This interim strategy does not apply to outright zones (e.g. RS-1), which represents approximately 77% of the one and two family zoning areas across the city, or for development applications utilizing the outright provisions of the applicable district schedule. As set out in the HAP, this approach will be studied further by the consultants to determine its applicability to all single family zones.

For a pre-1940s building deemed to have character merit or listed on the Vancouver Heritage Register, an owner could choose to either retain the building and seek relaxations to facilitate the building’s conservation, or if they choose to demolish the character or heritage building, the owners will be advised that the Director of Planning may not consider the conditional provisions of the applicable zoning by-laws and that the outright provisions of the zoning may apply. Where buildings do not have character merit, the building may be demolished and the conditional aspects of the development application may be considered. There may be some limited circumstances when the demolition of a character merit building will be considered by the Director of Planning. For example, if a property is underutilized (a small building on a large site) which could result in large additions that would impact the character value of the original building; or if the building is structurally unsound (confirmed by a registered structural engineer.

The HAP will review zoning provisions and incentives to encourage retention of character houses including the consideration of strata titling. Presently, strata titling is permitted in some RS (single family) zones. For example, in RS-2 and RS-4 it can be done for infill dwellings and two-family dwellings, and in RS-6 and RS-7 for infill dwellings which are uses that can be permitted on a conditional basis. In addition, sites subject to a Heritage Revitalization Agreement (HRA) can also include strata titling as part of the incentive to encourage building retention and rehabilitation. As part of the HAP work to be completed, consideration will be given to expanding the ability to allow strata titling of properties in other RS zones when character houses are being retained. Furthermore, additional incentives such as increases to floor area (for existing building and or laneway house), extra units and relaxation of other regulations to encourage retention will be considered.