Britannia Renewal


Last night was the monthly meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC). These ZOOM meetings attract a wide selection of local residents, and last night was no exception.

The meeting began with a short presentation by Nathan Davidowitz regarding the removal of bus stops in various neighbourhoods, including in Grandview along Nanaimo. Nathan noted the success that Dunbar Residents Association had in persuading Translink to adjust their proposed plans and asked GWAC to do the same. The Board agreed to look at writing letters to both City Council and Translink.

The meeting then moved to the main agenda item, a report on the Britannia Renewal project, which was given primarily by Craig who is both Chair of GWAC and a member of the Britannia Board.

Craig went through the current state of thinking about the four main buildings proposed for the site:

The new ice rink in the northwest corner is probably the first one up for detailed design. There is some thought that the draft plans may be open for public discussion this spring with construction in about 2-3 years. Some thought had gone into making two rinks, but the current plan is for one ice sheet with changing rooms and office, with perhaps a sports area on the roof.

Next over would be the new pool building. It will be slightly larger than the current pool and thoroughly modernised. The building will also house an 8,000 sqft fitness centre, along with a 69-person childcare space.

On the northeast corner we have the new Library building, which will have a custom art gallery space, some innovative art workshops, a clean air facility, and another 69-person childcare area.

Along the Commercial Drive frontage will be a new social and cultural building with a performance space on grade level. There will be a large dining hall and a commercial kitchen to serve Britannia’s various food programs. Other areas will be for arts & cultural spaces, along with the Seniors’ Centre, the Teen Centre, and Eastside Family Place. A rooftop garden is proposed.

A number of problems were identified, including the reluctance of the Vancouver School Board to pay for moving their workshops and offices to a new area. If that cannot be resolved, major design changes will be required to accommodate VSB’s needs.

But the major issues are still housing and height. Regardless of what locals or Britannia might want, the City is insistent that the site must accommodate a certain level of housing. The proposal is to put housing on top of the three new buildings along Venables. The height of those buildings will be determined by the number of housing units the City insists on.

The Britannia Board has stated their position that buildings should not be taller than 60 feet, and that ANY and ALL housing on the site must be truly affordable; they want nothing to do with market housing of any kind. Britannia’s hope is that the City will keep the number of units low and that ALL should be for indigenous seniors.

At this point, neither the number of units to be built nor the height of the buildings have been finalized with the City. Unfortunately, many of us are not expecting the best from this Council and their staff.

This was a typically useful GWAC meeting, with a good group of informed and interested citizens debating solid ideas and proposals.

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