Housing at Britannia?

September 11, 2017

Elizabeth Murphy has written another of her pieces in the Vancouver Sun. On this occasion, she is noting with horror the possibility of using public spaces, such as parks, to build housing in Vancouver.

I agree with many of the points she is making, including her thesis that the driving dynamic behind this movement is the desire to centralize, taking control from the locally based community centre associations, that was pushed forward so aggressively when Penny Ballem was City Manager. I also agree with her praise for new amenities that have been developed to include housing, such as the Strathcona and Mount Pleasant libraries.

However, when it comes to the redevelopment of Britannia, she has the history wrong and draws inaccurate conclusions from that faulty reading.  She blithely records that, during the development of the Britannia site in the 1970s that “housing was moved off the site.”  In fact, 77 houses were expropriated and demolished for the Community Center, many with barely grudging assent from the owners as recorded in Clare Shepansky’s definitive history of the removals. To this must be added 40 or 50 more that were torn down in the original building of Britannia School and the subsequent expansions in the 1950s primarily for playing fields.

It is entirely wrong to suggest, therefore, that the Britannia site has historically been a public asset. It was for many decades a thriving residential neighbourhood. The community could make a good and valid argument that we deserve to recover some of the housing that was lost to us in the 1970s, especially today when the need for affordable housing in Grandview is becoming acute.

It would seem to me that at this early stage where plans are not yet drawn up that we could take cues from the developments cited earlier in Strathcona and Mount Pleasant and possibly have the best of both worlds. The current green space could be preserved while a new library, gyms, pool, and schools could be designed with housing above (keeping, of course, to a maximum four-storey height). Let’s get creative!

I have not yet made up my mind whether I support the notion of housing as part of Britannia’s necessary and welcome redevelopment, but an inaccurate and revisionist history does a disservice to the people of Grandview and adds nothing to the debate.

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Image: Knot

September 11, 2017


Poem: Magnetic North

September 11, 2017

 

 

You are magnetic north;

All my paths converge on you.

 

You are the tropics;

my Cancer and my Capricorn.

 

You are the forests;

the leafy groves where my dreams dwell.

 

You are the mountains,

with heights I could not imagine.

 

You are the seven seas;

I bob on your waves and tides.

 

You are the equator;

the widest part of my existence.

You are my world.

 


9/11 and the Death of Democracy In Chile

September 11, 2017

On 9/11 in 1973, the US financed and helped plan the military overthrow of the legally elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile.

Crowds in Santiago celebrating the electoral victory of Salvador Allende

During the military assault, the President died (assassinated or committed suicide to avoid capture) and over the next few years of the vicious and inhuman dictatorship of US-supported Pinochet, several thousand Chileans were imprisoned, tortured, and killed.

allende

What happened in New York on this day 28 years later was also vicious and inhuman. However, it is about time for some reconciliation and regret for the war crimes the US has committed. If any US network or major media even mentions the Chilean anniversary during what will almost certainly be today’s spasm of Trump-like breast-beating, that would be a tiny start.