As advertized, the Commercial Drive Business Society (our local BIA) came to tonight’s meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC). Nick Pogor, Executive Director, gave a presentation supported by Carmen D’Onofrio (President) and Jonathan Williams (Treasurer).
The presentation began with a look at the BIA’s Constitution, and continued with the proposals they made in conjunction with getting another seven year’s license from the City. Most of the ideas were motherhood issues, but the strong desire to maintain and if possible add to parking on the Drive was loud and clear. (An interesting aside was that there is a conflict between a need for more parking on the one hand, and more permanent kerbside patios on the other). They are adamant that they want “no AAA, separated, or painted bike lanes” on the Drive.
They also made much of a regime they call Property Trespass Program. This involves ridding the Drive of the homeless sleeping in doorways or, as they put it “using private property for their own purposes.” This objective — the elimination of a selected class — contrasts strongly with a progressive desire for inclusivity. There was no discussion of the BIA helping the homeless they displace with somewhere else to live.
The possibility of putting retail outlets onto Grandview Park was floated. Just what we need — the commercialization of what little green space we have!
They announced that they would not be supporting the plaza space at Commercial & Grant this year as it was proving too expensive to maintain without additional City support. Treasurer Williams felt the need to suggest that the plaza had attracted “loiterers” as if that was a bad thing. Perhaps he doesn’t understand that “loitering” is what keeps the Drive’s cafe/bar people-watching infrastructure alive.
The BIA did come in for congratulations on the Italian flag crosswalks; they still look good after three years of use. Nick explained that the colours are not paint; they are part of the material itself. Therefore it has worn very well.
The general discussion at the end of the first half of the presentation led quickly to a long discussion about the Safeway development at Broadway & Commercial. Lots of humming and hesitation but the BIA says it does not have have a position yet; that some Drive merchants support the development, while others clearly don’t. On questioning, the BIA had to admit that they had last surveyed their members about Safeway a long time ago, and seemed to agree that a current survey would be useful.
Several speakers spoke eloquently of the danger such a huge development posed for the BIA’s current membership, and the significant negative change on the Drive that will follow if it goes ahead. They were strongly advised not to underestimate the impact.
It was, I believe, a really useful meeting. I hope that the BIA folks take away from it an understanding that we have a lot of well informed citizens here, with clear opinions who take their neighbourhood very seriously.