Meeting Notes: April 2018

It was another lively meeting last Thursday, with a wide range of topics discussed.

  • After introductions, Eric took us through a 1967 Beaver Kit houses brochure. The brochure loudly proclaimed the use of Zonolite insulation which, today, is the cause of much asbestos distress for those seeking to renovate their older houses;
  • We discussed the maintenance contract required for the GHG website.  We agreed a further two years with GoDaddy hosting, and we authorized a cheque to repay Penny for the expense.  In two years we will review the hosting situation;
  • We reviewed the plans for Car Free Day in July, and made an early call for volunteers to man the booth;
  • Neville presented an excellent piece of research based on a 1908 panoramic image of Grandview. In the image, it is possible to see the most part of Grandview west of the Drive down to False Creek.  Neville has spent considerable time identifying the houses, and has found water permits for many. It was a very valuable presentation;
  • Neville also presented some research on BC Mills houses including a couple of interesting examples that were moved to Odlum Street in the 1940s;
  • For the trifecta, Neville continued his discussion from last month regarding 1829 Parker. He suggests that the architect was Watson who also designed Wilga.
  • Penny discussed the repairs we are prepared to make to the Shelley’s sign which is now showing serious signs of exposure damage. She and Michael presented a plan for restoration to Via Tevere which they accepted.  The work will take place once the weather turns for the better;
  • Maria presented some suggestions for the Centenary Signs project this year.  She has identified a dozen or more houses in areas we have rarely touched in earlier years. It was agreed that a list will be prepared for a walking tour to make final selections;
  • Eric presented a number of upcoming events including the Heritage Garden Tour, the Grandview Garden Club garden tour, various Heritage Vancouver Foundation events, the Vancouver Labour History tours, and Christine Allen’s lecture for VHS next Thursday;
  • We were joined for much of the evening by James Evans who gave us an update on the Brookhouse development.  We also discussed the possibilities for an HRA at the St. Francis convent property.



Notes From The March Meeting

We had another interesting meeting last Thursday. Thanks to our logistics wizard Eric and others we weren’t thrown too much by a last minute change of venue.

  • Donato gave an illustrated report on the refurbishment of a heritage fireplace in the oldest house in Grandview;
  • Eric presented some fascinating material on the use of bricks as street pavement, covering cobble stones, special bricks to assist horses on hills, and wood blocks;also discussed were the various brickworks on the Lower Mainland;
  • We were joined by Daniele of the Mount Pleasant Heritage Group who explained their use over the years of posters, signs, and colouring pages for Heritage Week and similar events; there were some excellent ideas for us to follow next year;
  • Maria reported on a list of possible houses for this year’s Centenary Signs project; following an idea from MPHG, Jak will contact our BIA about signs on Commercial Drive retail building this year;
  • Jak presented a number of number of photographs illustrating changes on the Drive and in the neighbourhood between 1985 and today;
  • Neville gave a good interim report on the historical work he is researching on the 1800 block of Parker Street and, in particular, the house at 1829 Parker;
  • We had a brief Neighbourhood Update which included news on the paiting of Brookhouse, and the history of the Wonderbucks building which is now for sale;

We look forward to seeing many of you at our next meeting on 19th April.

Notes From February Meeting

We had another full house for the meeting yesterday evening, and as usual covered some fascinating topics.

  • We began with a presentation from a group of residents concerned about a proposed 6-storey project in the 1500-block Grant Street (the presentation is covered in more detail here). There were many questions and responses seeking to clarify the position of those opposing the development;
  • Michael Kluckner gave a delightful presentation on the history of the rec room and, in particular of the player piano. More specifically, it was about the player piano he and his partner inherited on buying their house. Very enjoyable.
  • John Stuart then mentioned a player piano concert to be held in Burnaby next week.
  • That segued well into Upcoming Events
    • Friends of Vancouver City Archives AGM 18 March including a presentation on the photo morgue donated by the Province;
    • Various Heritage Vancouver workshops;
    • Heritage Week 19 – 25 February
    • Vancouver Historical Society lectures for 22nd February, 22nd March, and 26th April (the last by our own Christine Allen on the history of gardens);
  • There was an update on the Shelly’s Sign on the Via Tevere restaurant on Victoria. The sign which we restored is suffering again from weather issues. When the weather turns a bit more friendly we will examine the best way to improve and maintain it.
  • Eric had another Heritage Tip, this one about using a tool for removing old trim without damage. This led to a good discussion about respirators to avoid dangerous dust hazards;
  • We discussed the 2018 edition of our Centenary Signs program. We will spend the next short while collecting suggestions for houses to be included. In April or May we will start the tour to check on the houses’ conditions and make final selections. It was suggested that this year we include some houses which are old enough to qualify but are in disrepair; the idea being to contrast and perhaps encourage general renovation;
  • We agreed to participate again in Commercial Drive’s Car Free Day in early July. We had a very good success last year and we are seeking additional ideas for this year’s displays.
  • We finished the evening with a short Neighbourhood Update which included news on a project at Pender & Commercial, the end of the Dairy Queen on Hastings, the Rio Theatre situation, and a reno at E. Georgia & Commercial.

Notes From January Meeting

Last Thursday we had the first GHG meeting of the year, and we had a very large attendance with several new faces; great to see everyone. As usual the discussions were wide-ranging.

  • We first discussed the demolition of the General Paints building on Venables. This was originally the site of Ayers Paint.  Although this is just outside our usual geographic boundaries, it led to a good discussion about lead and other contaminants on older industrial sites;
  • We briefly discussed a flyer aimed at foreign buyers in the Grandview area and how that may affect the neighbourhood;
  • Eric then presented his monthly Neighbourhood Update where we looked at and discussed changes to (mostly) heritage buildings in Grandview.  This included, amongst many other items, a review of the demolition of 1637 Victoria, the use of polystyrene forms at a new laneway house on Odlum, toxic cleanup from a former dry cleaning shop at 1155 Victoria, the closure of the Dairy Queen at Hastings & Lakewood, the rare shared driveway on Grant by Victoria, and the current state of the Brookhouse rebuilding.
  • Eric then led us through a detailed discussion on the use and construction of dry wells in Grandview;
  • Finally, we touched on the need for fundraising at Vancouver City Archives, especially in regard to the newly acquired photo library from the Province and Sun newspapers.

Notes From The June Meeting

The GHG had another interesting meeting last night, covering a wide range of topics:

  • We discussed arrangements for the plaque to be placed at 1350 Graveley to recognise it as the oldest still-extant house in Grandview. The unveiling will take place near the end of July (date to be confirmed) when a number of the original owners’ family will be present. Dates and final details to be confirmed in early July to allow for notification of the event;
  • Eric took us through this month’s Neighbourhood Review which included a look at the work moving swiftly ahead at both the new Bosa store on Victoria and Brookhouse on Parker, stone wall repair on Lakewood, and the history of Robertson Church on Salsbury. These discussions also allowed us to look into the costs of “legalizing” a suite in an older building, the costs associated with that, and a review of various BC MIlls (and similar “packaged”) houses;
  • Plans for GHG participation at Commercial Drive’s No Car Day on 9th July were discussed.  We have a table and will display various maps of Grandview’s growth, some early real estate ads and, hopefully, we will have access to the Grandview Database to allow passers-by to check the history of their houses. More GHG business cards and flyers will be prepared;
  • Eric also took us through a number of upcoming events, such as Maurice Guibord’s walking tours, VHS activities, and Heritage Vancouver’s Top Ten Endangered Sites tour;
  • We then looked at the new development application for a 10-storey tower at 11th and Victoria which, they claim, will include preservation of a single “heritage” house on the site;
  • Nigel raised the idea — available in Europe, apparently — that people could step in, through some form of legal arrangement, to assist heritage home owners who are unable or unwilling to maintain their properties. He noted that we already lose a lot of heritage homes through development and demolition, and it is a shame to lose others simply through neglect;
  • Eric showed a video about home to build porch (and similar) concrete piers;
  • We finished the evening with a lively discussion about preservation of heritage interiors. John had taken the New Westminster Heritage Tour this spring and noticed that some houses had done this,while many others — including many in Grandview — had preserved the exterior and form, but stripped out the interior. There was a back-and-forth debate about how far can heritage preservation actually go (do we really want an Edwardian kitchen, for example?).

Another excellent evening of fascinating talks.

Meeting Notes: May 2017

The GHG had another fine meeting last night, covering a diverse set of topics.

  • During the 1940s and 1950s, oil heating was marketed across Canada, became a popular alternative, and many people had oil storage tanks buried in their yards. These days, the old tanks are considered a hazard and are generally removed, especially when a house is for sale. Steve Holmes gave an excellent presentation on the removal of the oil tank from his yard. The presentation was illuminated with videos of the action. There was a discussion about the pros and cons of digging up and disposing of contaminated soil as opposed to a biological remediation, which Steve chose. The discussion also encompassed the use of sawdust for heating (very popular in Grandview);
  • The meeting looked at the mock-up of the plaque we are preparing for 1350 Graveley, the oldest house in Grandview. After debate, we agreed the images, the text and the financing.  We are aiming to inaugurate the plaque in July when descendants of the original house-owner will be in town. We were glad to note that Donato’s article on the house has been accepted by BC History Magazine and will be published this fall. Congratulations!
  • The sixth birthday of GHG (May 5th) was duly noted;
  • We discussed arrangements for a GHG table at No Car Day which this year is pushed to 9th July. Jak will prepare a series of maps showing the growth of Granville from 1900-1915, and will also have available a series of 1900s real estate ads enthusing about our neighbourhood. It was also agreed that, if we can secure power, we will have a computer available to perform searches on the GV Database. Eric will help prepare the displays, and will contact the organizers to try to secure a spot away from loud music.  Final details will be completed at the June meeting;
  • Jak gave a short presentation on changes to land values between 1929 and 1955;
  • James Evans, the developer, kindly visited to give us an update on the work moving forward at Brookhouse (1870 Parker). The old building has been moved to its new location (2 feet north and 8 feet west of its original spot) and the new foundations will be poured this week.  Framing for the old house and the new infill building will begin next week;
  • The meeting next looked at a number of housing issues in the neighbourhood, including  the recent Open Houses on changes to the RT zones which will effect heritage (“character”) houses. It was noted that while some ideas seemed positive, there seemed to be little discussion by Planners of how they would work in the GW environment where many lots are not standard 33×100.  It was also noted that the Britannia Renewal housing committee will be meeting on May 29 to discuss housing options for the Britannia site. The unconfirmed report that Boffo is withdrawing from its tower project at Commercial & Venables was also discussed;
  • The meeting closed with a shortened version of Eric’s Neighbourhood Update, during which it was noted that Vancouver Heritage Foundation is still looking for volunteers for its Heritage House Tour on June 4th.

Meeting Notes: March 2017

Another good turn out for our March meeting, and another good session of heritage and history talk.

  • Heritage Renvation Issues:  We were joined by Cynthia who owns a heritage house on Semlin. More than a decade ago, she built a sunroom on her deck and made some changes to the old cottage at the foot of her yard. The City is now claiming these changes are not up to code and there is a hearing to determine what steps whe will have to take to remediate the situation. It was noted that heritage activists have for years complained that work on older but perfectly fit-for-use buildings is too expensive because the city demandss the wholoe building be brought up to code. Cynthia is hoping that her neighbours will support her cause with the city;
  • Neighbourhood Update:   Eric then presented this month’s update on physical changes to the community. This included
    • building plans for the lot at 1138 Lily which was destroyed by fire in January 2016;
    • a discussion about the continued deterioration of Brookhouse while the city delays permits for the HRA;
    • Eric reviewed the few remaining Quonset huts that survive in East Vancouver, and our expectation that they will soon be demolished;
    • A good discussion about the Crystal Dairy building, a solution to where an image of the fleet barn was taken (on Clark between 3rd and 4th), and the delivery of milk in the 1950s;
    • the ongoing development of the REACH building on the Drive, durng which it was confirmed that no social housing units are being built on the site;
    • a quick review of last months RE figures
  • The Grandview Database:   Jak reviewed the progress on entering data into the database, explained the ease with which information can be recovered, and briefly touched on the future entries to be made;
  • The Oldest House in Grandview:  The wording for the plaque to be placed at 1350 Graveley was agreed. It was also agreed we will apply for a neighbourhood grant for the plaque. The final materials for the plaque are still to be determined;
  • Upcoming Course and Lectures:   A number of upcoming events were discussed, including heritage maintenance and repair, a masonry workshop, lectures at Hycroft and from the Vancouver History Society, the Friends of Vancouver Archives AGM, and John Stuart’s presentation at the Scandinavian Cultural Society;
  • Concrete:  We ended with a short video on tips and tricks with using concrete.

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.

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.