Notes From Our October Meeting

We had another fine turn-out for our October meeting, with some new and welcome faces.

  • We began by discussing the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhood’s all-candidates meeting.  The candidates’ responses re: the Heritage Action Plan were discussed.  It was also noted that all parties other than Vision had stated their opposition to the current Grandview Community Plan process.
  • The GHG presentation (by Penny and Brice) to the Community Plan’s Citizens’ Assembly on 4th October was briefly discussed.  The CA’s next meeting is on 25th October.
  • The sale of 2185 E. 5th was next up. With an asking price of about $1.6m, it was finally sold for over $1.9m, to a developer.  We understand he will probably do an HRA with infill, similar to Jeffs Residence. We will approach the realtor for a discussion of this and similar sales.
  • Next on the agenda was Brookhouse, 1872 Parker.  This is still sitting, apparently unoccupied but with the occasional light to be seen at night. There is no fresh news but, a couple of weeks ago, James Evans suggested that perhaps the current owner was realising his asking price is too high. So, maybe there is a still a hope for a sale to someone like James and then an HRA.
  • The history of the Howe House at Lakewood & Kitchener, and our method of tackling the mystery through directories, building permits, and censuses, was described. The family was tracked from a hotel in the West End at the turn of the century to Lakewood in the 1910s, and to a farm Langley in the 1920s.
  • Bruce Macdonald presented a first cut of his new 40-minute presentation work that describes the history of Grandview in terms that are specifically designed to be useful for considering the future of our neighbourhood. Very good conversation ensued.
  • One particular point that Bruce raises is that Grandview has been cut off from its sea shore, and very recently too.  There was general agreement that we need to regain that shore in some way despite the heightened security at the Port.
  • It was noted that the next GWAC Meeting, on Monday 3rd November at Astorino’s, will be a presentation of changes to Commercial Drive from a bike-lobby group.
  • Finally, we reviewed a request from Prof. David Brownstein for us to take another of his students to perform a project this year.  Last year’s exercise did not go particularly well, but we discussed a limited-focus idea about corner stores in Grandview.  This idea will be discussed further with Prof. Brownstein.

So good, so stimulating to meet with these folks every month.  Come join us!

Grandview On Top 10 Endangered Sites List

Heritage Vancouver has issued a list of the Top 10 Endangered Heritage Sites in Vancouver — and the entire Grandview Neighbourhood is on the list.

Grandview is one of Vancouver’s oldest historic neighbourhoods, with many consistent streetscapes of older houses and commercial buildings, few of which are on the City of Vancouver’s Heritage Register. While individual owners continue to work to upgrade their houses within broad heritage principles, builders and developers have set a trend of erecting front-back duplexes on 33-foot lots in a generic “heritage” style that can erode overall neighbourhood character.

Historic resources that are not listed on the Vancouver Heritage Register are threatened, as they are not eligible for the creative tools, relaxations and bonuses offered for Register resources. Unsympathetic zoning allows unchecked demolition of houses not on the Register, leading to generic replacement buildings. Some historic houses that are not on the Register sit on multiple lots, which could be attractive to developers and very difficult to retain …

Commercial Drive – our best surviving early commercial streetscape outside of the downtown core – has no specific heritage protection, and could be threatened with the kind of densification being seen on Vancouver’s other arterial corridors.

I suspect that we have enough activists in the neighbourhood — including quite a few media types — that we can at the very least make a lot of noise about unwanted changes.  However, the massive barn that Council has recently approved at 1st & Victoria, and the bad compromises made at the Presbyterian Church at Salsbury & Napier, remind us that vigilance is always needed.

We are supportive of sympathetic change — we have supported the Jeffs House restoration, for example — but are concerned that some developers don’t look beyond the balance sheet. If you are aware of any potentially damaging changes that are upcoming, please let us know by email or in person at one of our monthly meetings.