Fifty 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.

About 30 people attended the WPARC AGM on 25th October 1967.  E.M. Greyall was in the chair.  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.” Another motion passed making the Area boundaries Clark, Broadway, Nanaimo and the inlet. K. Frank Neale (principal at Seymour K-7) was elected chairman, with Bill Dey (Grandview Ratepayers) as vice-chairman. Other directors included G. Negrin, M. Pratt, Johnny Grippo. V. Coombs and Mrs. Buchan.  In addition there were were the chairs of sub-committees:  Miss M. Dick (Headstart), Jack Burch (Library), and Mrs. G. Gentleman (Housing and Redevelopment).

And thus, GWAC can trace its history back to 1st March 1964, fifty years ago today.