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.

 

Meeting Notes: November

Another good gathering last Thursday, and more fascinating discussions.

  • We looked at various property assemblies being created in the south end of the neighbourhood; we also noted the falling state of the RE market; and then we were still surprised to find 1976 still priced at less than $1 million;
  • There was a fine discussion regarding the plans for the lot immediately behind the Florida Building/. It appears that what the developer wants is so close to what is already allowed that it is small change in exchange for guaranteeing the protection of the Florida Building itself,
  • It was noted a potential good use had been found for the Urban Empire storefront at 1108 Commercial which has now been vacant for more than three years. Unfortunately the agent listing the property has not returned any messages.
  • Eric reported on the renovations being made to the heritage apartment building at Adanac and Victoria;
  • There has been some, though slow, progress on the Bosa Building on Victoria;
  • The Shelly’s sign at Victoria & Williams which GHG salvaged some years ago, is now showing signs of disrepair and weather damage. Between now and the spring when the work could be done, Penny, Michael, & Victoria O., will come up with a repair plan and budget;
  • The replacement heritage plaque that we have at the sign is also in the process of being replaced and improved to better stand up to the UV damage;
  • We looked at the twin heritage houses at 1962 and 1968 Turner. Both built by Joseph Barlow with building permits dated 1912 but still vacant at time of Goad’s map at the end of that year. They were, I assume, built in 1913 when Barlow was building other houses on Turner and Harris Streets.
  • We examined the deterioration of vacant building during this winter. Brookhouse, for example (process delays), and 2145 Parker (no known reason);
  • Eric showed some information on the Haney Brick Works, from which came many of the bricks used in Grandview;
  • Future events noted included:
    • Open house re: Safeway site (11/19)
    • VHS lecture on the Kits Indian Reserve (11/24)
    • Open houses for Community Plan zoning (11/26 and 11/30)
    • Vancouver Heritage Christmas Party (12/6)
    • VHS lecture on Civic Politics (1/26)

Meeting Notes: October

We had another fine gathering this evening. There was a short agenda but we managed to fill the time with interesting discussions.

  • Eric presented his latest Neighbouthood Update.
    • Land assembly is going on around Broadway and Garden in preparation for the changes allowed under the new Community Plan
    • Work is continuing on the Green House on Venables; it is looking better than it has for more than a decade;
    • We looked at the work going on at the Westerdale apartments at Adanac and Victoria; at First & Victoria, and both the Bosa building and The Frances site on Victoria.
  • Notices about Upcoming Events included:
    • various lectures at Hycroft
    • Navigating City Hall for Heritage owners on 10/25
    • Friends of the Archives fundraiser this Sunday with a presentation on Vaudeville in Vancouver
    • Next Thursday’s Vancouver Historical Society lecture at MOV is on activism in the 1970s.
  • Jak gave a short presentation about the original grand plans for the building that eventually became Joe’s Cafe. This will be subject of a post on this site.
  • We had a report on both the sign and the plaque at the Via Tevere restaurant.
    • The plaque has once again fallen victim to the sun fading the words untikl they are illegible. It was agreed we will replace the plaque and this time Steph has agreed to build a frame that will incorporate a laminated glass so as to reduce this problem;
    • The owners of the building have pointed out that some of the paint restoration work we did on the Shelly’s sign is shifting. It was agreed we will contact the artist, Victoria G, survey the situation and come up with a budget to improve the sign.
  • Eric presented two more very entertaining Heritage Life Hacks:
    • The trials and tribulations of mending old locks;
    • Dealing with roots in old sewer lines.
  • We discussed the upcoming Complete Streets policy decisions, and how this may affect heritage buildings on the Drive.
  • Finally, we briefly discussed the uses of Newspapers.com and their complete run of Vancouver World.

Notes To September Meeting

We enjoyed a wonderfully full and productive meeting last night. There were almost thirty people in attendance, many of them new to the group. They were interested and articulate, and it was great to welcome them all. The following agenda items were covered:

  • Donato Calogero began the meeting with a wonderful presentation on his house at 1350 Graveley. He has conducted considerable research on the property including the collection of a marvellous group of photographs. Donato has discovered that the house was built on the shore of False Creek (then, 1200 E. 1st) probably in 1900. As part of the construction of the First Avenue Viaduct, the house was moved in 1937 to 1726 Clark Drive. In 1956 it was moved again to its present location on Graveley. It is concluded that this is the oldest continuously existing building in Grandview. Over the next short while we will work to put the presentation on this website for all to see. It was also agreed that we will design and erect a plaque noting this important history.
  • Centenary Celebration Houses 2016:  We discussed this briefly. Unfortunately there was an online technical issue and we were unable to show the photographs.
  • Eric gave another of his fine What’s Happening In the Neighbourhood presentations.
    • We noted the replacement of the Heritage Plaques previously stolen on Salsbury
    • We agreed to replace (for a second time) the plaque on Via Tevere building, damaged by sunlight
    • Work on the Cultch’s Green House is progressing well
    • There was a general note that some heritage houses for sale seem to be staying on the market longer than earlier this year
    • It was noted that Brookhouse (1872 Parker) is showing considerable signs of being damaged due to the length of time it has now sat unoccupied
    • Other properties on Victoria, 7th, 5th, Commercial, William, and Venables were reviewed
    • The current state of the maple trees in Grandview Park was also noted, several trees having already been felled
    • It was also noted that a number of development applications on Commercial Drive are asking for very limited or zero parking
  • Eric also took us through a number of Upcoming Events. These include a number of tours via Heritage Vancouver, the Van Hist Society’s lecture on 9/22, and the Friends of Vancouver Archives fundraiser on 10/23
  • Finally we discussed the future of GHG itself.  It was noted that the founders are getting older and several are currently working on projects unconnected to Grandview (and thus not suitable for presentation at the monthly meetings). Younger and active volunteers are needed to ensure that we carry on as successfully as we have in the past. However, tonight’s excellent turnout and program shows that the group clearly does have a promising future.

Meeting Notes — June 2016

We had another interesting meeting last Thursday evening.

  • Claire Shepansky gave an excellent presentation on her recent project which was to document and analyze the residential displacement caused by the building of the Britannia Community Centre in 1973-1974.
  • The regular monthly feature on Neighbourhood Changes discussed Heritage Conservation Areas (as is being mooted for Mole Hill in the West End); the renewal of porches and balconies, the upcoming public hearing for the Brookhouse HRA, and a number of recent real estate activity of interest to heritage;
  • A discussion of upcoming Events included an Architectural Salvage Sale, walking tours in Mount Pleasant, Downtown, and the PNE, and various fall workshops;
  • This year’s Centenary Signs project continues with seven new signs going up this week; we will celebrate them in September;
  • It was agreed that the summer season meetings of July and August will be cancelled this year. Our next meeting will be on 15 September.

Notes From The May Meeting

We had another lively, informative, and well-attended meeting last Thursday evening. After introductions:

  • We took note of our fifth anniversary on 5th May
  • Centenary Signs Campaign
    • All the previous year’s signs have been collected
    • Maria and Donato have assembled a number of possibilities on the west side of Grandview
    • It was agreed we will look for other potentials to tie in with the route of this year’s Eastside Garden Tour
    • Penny, Dorothy, and Donato volunteered to collect more addresses
    • Michael and Jak will do write ups
  • Neighbourhood Update
    • The continued upward pressure on house prices was noted
    • Also noted that Commercial Drive is on Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Endangered List again this year
    • 1102 Commercial was discussed
    • A number of renovations on Graveley were examined
    • A number of sales and demolitions in the neighbourhood were discussed
  • Gastown Historic Area was noted
  • A number of upcoming events were noted, including
    • 5 June: Heritage House Tour
    • 11 June: Heritage Vancouver Garden Tour
    • 18 June: Architectural Salvage Sale
    • 19 June: East Van Garden Tour
    • various walking tours from the Vancouver Heritage Foundation
  • Eric reviewed a number of Vancouver Heritage Brown Bag lectures, including the old Remand Centre in DTES, Taylor Manor, and St George’s School
  • The debate on What’s So Special About The Drive which took place the previous evening was discussed, as were some of the ideas for density and affordability
  • We discussed Car Free Day 2016 on 19th June.  It was agreed we would not have a table this year as many members were involved with other tables and activities that day.  We will request that the GWAC table hold some basic materials for us.  It was agreed we will definitely have a table in 2017 and that some effort this year will go toward producing materials and displays for that table.
  • We discussed the idea of having as a regular part of each month’s meeting a short presentation on the history of one house in the neighbourhood.
  • It was noted that this year’s student, Claire Shepansky, has produced an excellent report on the displacement of residents during the establishment of Britannia Centre. As soon as possible we will put up a link on our website to the report.

Meeting Notes: April 2016

The GHG had another interesting and productive meeting last night with a fine turnout for a warm “early summer” night,

  • After introductions, Jak attempted to show a short video entitled “Living In Gunter’s World” which takes viewers through a short history of surveying measurements and how that has directly affected the shape and history of Vancouver.  Unfortunately, technical issues made the viewing impossible, but the link is included in this post and everyone is encouraged to view the 3 minute presentation.
  • There was a quick review of John Stuart’s interesting and successful industrial heritage walk.
  • The monthly Neighbourhood Update report covered a lot of ground including commercial property changes on Commercial Drive, and sales of properties on E. 7th, Venables, Semlin, Lakewood, William, Napier, and a number on Charles Street — all with typically high prices, and many seemingly slated for demolition and redevelopment.  It was noted that 2088 Charles is being retained by the new owners, using an HRA to include a small infill coach house. Further, work on restoring the Green House at 1985 Venables is moving ahead and should be completed this summer. It was agreed this was a far better use of funds than the Cultch’s original plan to demolish the heritage building and replace it with a modernist and inappropriate box-like structure.
  • We reviewed a number of upcoming Vancouver Heritage Foundation events and workshops, details of which can be found on their website.
  • John Aitken’s “Researching The History of a Building” workshop is part of the Heritage BC event at Granville Island (see 2c on the schedule). A half-day registration for the event is $70. We recommend Penny Street’s excellent seminar on the same topic, her on our website for free.
  • Maurice Guibord’s tour on “Grandview: Places of Worship” is on Saturday from 10am until noon.
  • It was agreed to sponsor a Jane’s Walk tour of the Drive on 8th May. Jak will contact Steve Bohus and Lewis Villagas who are interested in organizing the event.
  • The ongoing Heritage Vancouver series, “Shaping Vancouver” continues on 18th May with a discussion on “What’s So Special About The Drive“. Registration is required.
  • It was agreed that Jak will conduct a history/heritage walking tour of Commercial Drive on 11th June.  More details to follow,
  • Further walking tour ideas were briefly discussed, including the possibility of one focusing on the women of the neighbourhood,
  • We discussed the possibility of a 2016 version of our annual Centenary Signs program.  Maria and Donato have begun to collect potential houses. It was agreed that Penny and Maria will commence the task of collecting last year’s signs (for cleaning and refurbushment) and Penny will write letters of thanks to last year’s recipients.
  • To complete the evening, Michael gave a very interesting illustrated presentation on “The Curious Case of Shaughnessy Heights“. The presentation took us through the history of First Shaughnessy from before the CPR land grant to the 1970s and beyond. Michael noted the curiosity that the single-family nature of Shaughnessy was in its DNA — not to mention the various restrictive legislation and by-laws that have governed the district for good or ill.

Another interesting and full evening.

Notes from the February 18th meeting

Our February meeting ranged over a number of topics:

• Cynthia Low, the ED of Britannia Community Services Centre, attended the meeting to ask whether GHG would be willing to coordinate a research project on the history of First Peoples in the Grandview area. It would involve consultation with Elders, a review of historic documentation, a study of the landscape and natural history, and suggestions for showcasing the results as part of the Carving Pavilion recently erected next to the community centre. If at all possible, the work would include involvement with students at all levels. We are going to liaise with Cynthia to try to come up with terms of reference and a time line.

• Eric Phillips presented a detailed edition of his Mechanics and Materials series, this time on Seismic upgrading for homeowners. He referenced the SafeStrongHome website for further investigation. It was a good, comprehensive primer on the top handful of tasks homeowners should contemplate to minimize the damage their houses might suffer from the Big One and the Not-Quite-As-Big One.

• Michael Kluckner presented a handful of images and some speculation about the rumours of redevelopment swirling around St. Francis of Assisi School at Victoria and Venables and the possible implications for the church/presbytery at Napier and Semlin (especially its large lawn area) and the other church property, the former “Poor Claires” convent at the northwest corner of Napier and Semlin (now the Church of St. John of Shanghai). He included some informal history of the Italian community in Grandview.

• John Stuart will figure out a time to give his industrial heritage walking tour, sometime in late March or early April, which we will report on this site.

• We agreed to put together a table for Car-Free Day, June 19th. Details to follow.

• Eric Phillips wrapped up the meeting with pictures and commentary of changes in the neighbourhood, including the demolition of the old Bosa’s store/apartment building on Victoria Drive.

Next meeting will be on Thursday, March 17th at 7 pm, in the boardroom of the Britannia Info Centre at 1661 Napier, as always.