The regular monthly meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) took place on ZOOM last night and the topic of discussion was the current proposal for huge towers on the Safeway site at Broadway & Commercial. I was able to stay just for the first hour and so my report is on that section.
There was a good turnout for the meeting which began with a detailed presentation by GWAC Director Barbara Cameron. She noted that the current proposal is for a series of three towers, up to 30 storeys tall on top of a 6-storey retail and public space platform. This compares with the maximum of 12 storeys recommended by the Citizens’ Assembly and the 24 storeys that were eventually forced by Vision into the Grandview Community Plan. The developer has offered just 20 social housing units in exchange for the zoning adjustment. Ms. Cameron announced that the heights suggested are unacceptable to GWAC.
Note that the entire sorry history of the development proposals for this site can be followed in various articles on this blog, and the political and process background is covered in detail in Battleground: Grandview.
There was a good amount of spirited debate over various aspects of the proposal. Significant opposition was expressed to the height and massing, to the “faux” plaza that is being offered, and to the effects on local land values (and therefore affordability) of a project of this size. Some speakers wanted to see no towers on the site at all, but most seemed to recognize that some degree of “tower” is going to be there. Ned Jacobs — an experienced veteran in these matters — described the proposed building as “an insult … a hideous ugly barracks” and the worse he has ever seen. More than one speaker reminded the group that a similar development at Cambie & Marine Drive has become a desolate enclave for big box stores.
Many speakers spoke of the need to organize opposition to the proposal, an organization that needs to be outside GWAC. It was agreed that as many people as possible should write to Council with their comments, to get them on the record. It was suggested that individual Councilors should be approached, that GoFundMe could help with payment for FaceBook ads to counter the City’s propaganda. Gayle Gavin reminded everyone that the city process is broken and is designed against local viewpoints with little time for organization once the proposals are published. (where have I heard all this before?)
As I was leaving, there were discussions beginning about swapping email addresses and getting an organization moving ahead. I wish them well and I offer this blog as a propaganda agency for their ideas and proposals.