Housing at Britannia?

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.

3 Responses to Housing at Britannia?

  1. Grandview Citizen says:

    So why should I waste even one second on Elizabeth Murphy’s piece of fiction in the Vancouver Sun? Does she have some divine insight? Is she a star of civic planning? And why should anyone waste their time on a Postmedia propaganda publication? Extreme boredom? Love of Paul Godfrey? This guy and his minions deserve none of our respect or attention.

    A quick stroll through a few Vancouver parks is all a person needs to do to get informed. My strolling leads me to these conclusions:

    1. So many of Vancouver’s parks are an utter waste of space. It’s time to either build intelligently on them or improve them so they serve the people that actually live in their neighborhoods.

    2. Some people already live in the parks. Maybe not Britannia, but certainly in the adjacent Grandview Park. Ignoring that fact is sociopathic. Build some shelter and show some humanity. Or maybe just let them freeze to death, again Malcolm Bromley?

    Finally the term “affordable housing” is about as meaningful as the phrase “Now 41% better!”. Affordable for whom? Perhaps start with a definition of what *exactly* is meant by “affordable housing”, then let’s have a public discussion about how to create it, and where. Maybe it’s not above a community centre, or a library.

  2. jakking says:

    I’m not going to comment on the substance of the last comment. I will note once again however that it is written under a pseudonym which I always take to mean the person doesn’t have the guts to actually stand behind what they write.

  3. Ferry seagull says:

    Grandview will suffer if Translink spaces the bus stops much further apart. (4 blocks and more) as their new “standard” defines.
    Parks are few and far between in Grandview and too often the playing fields/green (brown) lawn type.
    Where are the old days of the “bush” Mosaic is the only example and The Cut (if it is a park on the edges)

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