Busy Night At GWAC

March 5, 2013

It was a full house at last night’s Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) meeting.  It was marvelous to see so many people there, and all engaged.

BIA Vision ReportThe BIA came to give us a presentation on their Vision Report for Commercial Drive.  They have some interesting ideas (which I would like to share, but they do not want to make an electronic copy available) but they are also pushing certain ideas that were roundly criticized.  These would include 6-story buildings on the Drive and elimination of the 7′ setback north of First.

There was also much criticism that the people of Grandview were not consulted or involved in any way in the design of their “vision.”  They argue that they have to put forward the views of only their members and the the people of Grandview can make submissions to the Community Plan on their own or through organizations such as GWAC.  That didn’t satisfy many of us.

The BIA also stayed around to answer questions about food trucks, which is what had drawn much of the crowd to the meeting.  Andre Montagliani of Renzo’s — outside of which The Daily Catch fish-and-chip truck has been parking — gave a good presentation on why we shouldn’t have trucks on the Drive and, most certainly, not on Grandview Park.  The support for Andre’s position from most of the audience was quick and loud, with artist FamousEmpty Sky, for example, giving an impassioned talk on the problems caused for neighbouring residents. The BIA were obliged to resond to the overwhelming criticism.

We were told that the BIA does not support the idea of food trucks on the Drive.  They said they had been fighting off the City for a few years and were surprised when two licenses were issued for Drive-based trucks.  They claim that for the first year they purchased the licenses in order to keep trucks off the streets.  However, this year they felt they could not support the $2,400 a year it was costing them and therefore allowed The Daily Catch to buy one of the licenses.  They also suggested the City had said they would be increasing the number of licenses to four.  Much of the audience felt that $2,400 was a small price to pay to keep trucks off the Drive, and some merchants even suggested that, if asked, they would be happy to support the BIA in paying for them.  The overall mood was decidely against the trucks, and there was some doubt as to the BIA’s appetite to fight the City on this.

In the end, it was resolved that GWAC and the BIA would jointly write to the City explaining that neither the businesses nor the residents wanted food trucks on Commercial Drive.  In addition, we will invite Councillor Heather Deal and the relevant senior City bureaucrat to our April meeting to make sure they are aware of our opinions before any further steps are taken to ruin the Drive.

We closed the meeting with a short presentation by Lon Laclaire of City Engineering in regards to the viaducts situation.  He was responding to the the GWAC letter of last month that questioned the lack of planning for traffic headed to Grandview once the viaducts are down.  He is not sure that they will have a report ready for Council by the scheduled date in April, noting that matters of traffic design east of the viaducts become more complex the more one looks at them.  However, it was clear from his presentation that development pressures around the stadium are forcing the pace on this.

Of course, Councillor Meggs has already said that we should pull down the viaducts first and only then worry about what happens east of Gore.  To many of us this is just like Wily E. Coyote running off the edge of the cliff without a plan to keep moving once gravity takes over.

GWAC has not taken a formal position on the viaducts because the Board is split between those supporting the demolition and those who oppose it at this time.  It a shame that our colleagues at Strathcona Residents Association, a rep of whom was at last night’s meeting, have taken an unequivocal stand in favour of the removal and seem to be content with the idea of a Malkin highway that would dump all the traffic into Grandview at Clark and Charles.  This complicates the cooperation between the two groups that we would like to foster.

A very lively and useful meeting!