Meeting Notes: October

Excellent meeting last night with a number of new people in attendance, including two from Mount Pleasant who have been inspired to start a heritage group in their neighbourhood — that’s what we want to see all over the City!  There were a number of interesting items on the agenda:

  • We started with an announcement of a heritage/history walk:  Maurice Guibord will be conducting a tour of the area west of Commercial Drive on Saturday 9th November.  Meet at Mosaic Park (Charles & McLean) at 10:00am sharp.  Suggested donation is $10.  Maurice — an excellent and experienced tour leader — has found some fascinating material from that area and the tour is bound to be of interest.
  • The wonderful Brookhouse at 1872 Parker seems doomed.  Subject to a few conditions, the City has informed the owner — Ernie Ho of FuHo Design — that his permit to demolish and rebuild will be issued in early November. They have completely disregarded the letters sent from GHG and GWAC. Only direct pressure on the owner can save it now.
  • As a corollary to the 1872 Parker disaster, it was suggested that both GHG and GWAC write to City Council regarding the Heritage Revitalization Agreement process that seems to be so arduous that it has scared more than one owner away from saving a valuable property.
  • We also discussed the issue of the Astorino’s building at Commercial & Venables which is part of the ongoing Community Plan (CP) issues.  It was confirmed that City Council amended the Jackson Report to allow the potential development of this site (along with the Kettle, Ace of Suedes and the City parking lot) to continue even during the CP process but with “significant reduction in proposed height).  We now await the developer’s proposal.  In the meanwhile, we want to push for a Statement of Significance on the building as a folk-cultural artifact (it was agreed the building itself was not of the highest class) and as a performance space (especially as Britannia is now using it as such).
  • The 2014 Centenary House signs campaign is now officially underway.  Penny and Maria will be organizing selection tours to create a list of potential houses.
  • We also discussed the “permanent plaque” program with reference to the fading that has been noticed on the Shelly’s Sign wall.  Lance will investigate the issue and report back to us.
  • Jak agreed to write a brief guide to adding material to our wiki. This will appear on this website in the next few days.
  • Bruce reported on the Ridge Bowling Pin which he has been trying to secure for the Grandview Lanes roof.  It has been purchased by Yusuf Wosk for $5,000 and is apparently stored in his backyard. Maybe we can still get it if he gets bored with it.
  • It was noted that there is an Opne House for the Trout Lake Masterplan on Saturday. Bruce Macdonald will be giving a heritage overview at the Community Centre that morning.
  • Finally, we thoroughly enjoyed part 4 of Eric’s marvelous series “Mechanicals and Materials“.  Tonight’s was about the Hazards of Old Houses.  He talked about the uses and problems with lead, asbestos, mercury, leaking underground storage tanks (apparently known as LUST to specialists), and other chemicals. Highly informative and entertaining as always.  Thanks Eric!

A fun and entertaining evening.

The green house next to The Cultch

After a hiatus of a couple of years, I’ve begun to take my sketchbook out into the city looking for derelicts – looking for pending change. One place that’s been on my mind is the house at 1885 Venables that was used as rehearsal and administration space next door to The Cultch.
vvgreenhouse
The house was built as part of the church compound, as a manse or rectory (whatever the term Methodists used), in 1912. Here are images of the building permit (from Heritage Vancouver‘s permit database) and the site as it appeared in the Goad’s 1912 atlas.

1885venables2
1885venables
I’ve watched the blue tarp on its roof, put there to protect the interior from leaks, deteriorate to the point of uselessness, and heard the rumours that The Cultch will demolish the house rather than adapt it to its needs, arguing that it is too far gone to be rehabilitated affordably. And I wonder, is this an example of the prudent use of scarce arts-and-culture funds, or is it an example of cultural vandalism, the sort of thing we deplore when developers turn their backs on heritage stewardship? Just curious….

Meeting Notes: June 20th

We had another well-attended and very productive meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group last night, dealing with a wide range of matters:

  • We reviewed the Heritage Fair and Car Free Day experiences.  It was agreed that we met a lot of people at those events, answered a lot of questions and, hopefully, enthused a few about our neighbourhood’s heritage.
  • We discussed the fact that one of our 2013 Centenary House signs has gone missing from outside one house.  A range of options was suggested, including marking each sign with which house it was attached to;
  • This led to a continuation of our discussions about offering more permanent ceramic plaques for the houses.  A sub-committee (Lance, Penny, Dorothy) was struck to examine the issues (cost, price, content, attachment strategies, etc) and it will report back to the next meeting.
  • Our big party at the Shelly’s Sign is this coming Sunday; Ann caught us up on the status of the organization and we spent some time finalising the details, filling volunteer slots, etc.
  • Michael Kluckner gave a fascinating presentation reviewing how some developers/home owners are using Heritage Revitalization Agreements to get around the restriction on laneway houses and infill in RT zones. His example was from Kitsilano but he noted that we have similar lot sizes and issues here in Grandview.  We have previously been keen on getting more Grandview houses onto the Vancouver Herirtage Register, but Michael showed how this could be quite damaging to the neighbourhood in the long run.
  • The group discussed some upcoming issues concerning the Grandview Woodland Community Plan:
    • The Historical Context Statement meeting at the WISE Hall on 24th June at 7:00pm
    • Questionnaire responses to the draft Community Plan deadline on 3rd July.
    • The GWAC Public Meeting on 8th July at 7:00pm
  • We had a good discussion about the Grandview Heritage wiki that we are developing.  This will become formally open on the weekend to allow the QR code on the Shelly’s plaque to be made available.  There will be a lot more info on this in the next few days –watch this space!
  • We also discussed the fact that someone — perhaps the Commercial Drive BIA — has had signs reading “The Drive” on street signs placed throughout Grandview.  It was agreed we will contact the BIA to find out how this came about.
  • Bruce discussed his plan to salvage the 12′ bowling pin from the Ridge Bowling Lanes and to place it on Grandview Lanes.  He has had preliminary discussions with the Ridge, with heritage staff at City, and with the Marino family who own GV Lanes. Bruce will keep us informed as to progress.

Notes from the January Meeting

On Thursday evening we had a grand turnout for our monthly meeting.  It was, I believe, the largest gathering of its kind that we’ve had.  There were lively discussions about a wide range of topics.

  • We began by discussing the Heritage Workshop put on by the Community Planners that many of us had attended during the previous week. It was generally agreed that some useful debates took place there, and the availability of the City’s heritage planners was valuable — hopefully they listened to what was being said.  However, we noted that they seemed to be trying to steer us in certain directions (picking individual sites of value rather than recognising the holistic nature of the neighbourhood, for example).  The general consensus was that the summaries given at the end of the event did not include several of the major points mentioned at the tables.  We look forward with great interest to see how accurately this workshop will be reported out.  It was further noted that heritage plays an important role in the future workshops on Housing and Transportation.
  • Further to the Workshop, it was noted that the Planners’ survey seemed to indicate that the “value” of heritage was not high on respondents’ concerns.  It was agreed that the question was skewed and thus the result is meaningless.  Further, the value of Grandview’s heritage to the rest of Vancouver has so far been ignored in the process.
  • The role that GHG could take in the expansion of the Heritage Register was discussed.  It was noted that the recent “Waldorf crisis” seems to have awakened City Council to a possible expansion of the Register.  GHG could take a role in identifying properties not yet on the Register, and could assist City staff by our contacts with relevant owners.
  • The creation of a Visioning Report by the Commercial Drive BIA was noted.  We will try to get hold of a copy for study and comment.
  • Eric Philips presented a fascinating slide show on the use of concrete blocks in Grandview’s early days.  He also circulated a catalog of early 20th century block-making machines. At a later date Eric will give a further presentation on the local use of concrete foundations.
  • We discussed the wrap up to the 2012 Centenary House project.  Penny has drafted a letter to the 2012 recipients which mentions that she and others will be collecting the signs soon and cleaning them up ready for this year’s project.  At the November meeting we agreed to look into the creation of a more permanent sign that could be offered to participants.  Lance has begun this exploration and he is currently looking at printing moulds on a 3-D printer and casting them in pewter.  It was agreed that our permanent signs should look different than the City’s Heritage plaques.
  • We then moved on to the 2013 House Signs project.  We had a list of about 150 houses we believed were constructed in 1913; however on further research many of these turn out to be earlier or later.  Given this, and the future problem of finding any houses for 1914 through 1916, we agreed to explore a change to our signs that would indicate the houses are over 100 years old rather than a specific age.  A date for a walking review tour of the 30+ possibles on our list was agreed.
  • The City’s 2013 Heritage Awards programme was discussed and we hope to be nominated both for the House Signs project and advocacy/education through the website and walking tours.  Deadline for nominations is January 28th.
  • Planning for the House History Workshop on March 23rd was moved ahead. Penny will present the workshop at the Eastside Family Place at 3pm.  Further details will be posted in the next few weeks.
  • Ann noted that there is a Community Small Grants program for Hastings North ( an area that covers Victoria Drive to Boundary, docks to First Avenue.)  It was suggested that we could apply for a grant to refurbish the heritage advertising sign on the side of the Via Tevere Pizza building on Victoria.  Various options regarding the future of the sign were discussed.  Ann will look into the grant possibility.
  • Michael noted that the Vancouver Heritage Foundation is seeking new locations for its Open House tour in early June.  A number of suggestions were made which Michael will forward to VHF.

It was another busy and productive meeting.