Grant Street Development: Open House

September 8, 2018

The major development proposal for 1535-1557 Grant will have an Open House this coming Tuesday, 11th September, between 5 and 8pm at Britannia Secondary School.


I reported on this from the February GWAC meeting, and tried to be free of editorializing at that time:

I attended the February meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council last night. There was a full house and a lot of intelligent community discussion … three neighbours of a proposed development on Grant Street, two of whom are professional architects, gave a presentation in opposition to the project as currently designed.

The developer has purchased four lots — 1535, 1545, 1549, and 1557 Grant — and proposes to demolish the 1½ -3 storey heritage houses on those lots and to build a 6-storey secured rental apartment complex of 40 units. Four of the units will be 3-bedroom, 12 of two bedroom, and 24 with one-bedroom.  They claim that this will be a “family-oriented” development even though the majority of units are unsuitable for families with children.

The zoning under the Community Plan allows for a 6-storey apartment building (although formal approval and a public hearing is still required) but the developer will be seeking a number of zoning changes including a significant reduction in parking requirements. They wish to supply just 19 automobile spaces for the 40 apartments.

This proposal is one of the five allowed under the Pace of Change regulations in the first three years of the Community Plan. Because it will be secured rental, the developer will have the Community Amenity Charges (CACs) waived, saving considerable expense.

The presenters have written to the Planning Department with their concerns. They explained that a large 6-storey building in the middle of this block of 2-3 storey houses would be out of place, especially as there is no planned transition between the smaller houses and the apartment building. They note that there are considerable slopes both east-west and north-south, and no lane, making access to the new building and along the narrow Grant Street very difficult, especially for emergency vehicles.  The shadowing of the neighbouring houses is expected to be extreme. There are also issues of noise and the loss of heritage trees.

It was noted that these will be market rentals (one-bedroom suites starting at about $1,800 a month) and so will add nothing to affordability in the neighbourhood.  The four houses being demolished are all currently rentals and most have basement or other additional suites.  It was pointed out by several members of the audience that in Grandview there are virtually no “single family houses”; most so-called SFHs have additional suites and are therefore twice or more as dense as some might think.

Several other audience members called the project a “block buster” which will inevitably lead to more such projects in similar low-rise streets and blocks.

This is a difficult one for me. I approve of the concept because we need a lot more purpose built rentals in Grandview; I have no problem with the size; and I have no issue with heritage problems as the street being redeveloped is not even close to being a pristine example of our Edwardian past — the houses are old rather than worthy.


However, this development is a typical Vision Vancouver giveaway, where the developer is to gain an enormous financial advantage for building units the rents of which 75% of the working population in the city cannot afford. So, as keen as I am to see rentals built, I have to list myself on the opposition side in the hope that something more affordable can be developed on the site.

There is more information in the this recent article in the Vancouver Courier.


McSpadden County Fair

September 7, 2018

The Evolution of a Wall

September 1, 2018

Way back in 1964, Roy Babic erected a modern building to house Babic Electric, the electrical and lighting store he and his wife ran at 952-956 Commercial.  It had a double storefront facing the Drive, with two apartment suites above; one with an entrance from the lane, and the other on Parker Street.

The southside wall of the structure running along Parker to the lane was a plain utilitarian painted wall. More recently, the wall has received a few coats of, usually, green paint that often reflects as shallow blue.  About five years ago, I began a series of photographs — the Greenspace series — that have illustrated the changes to the wall and the foliage over the years.

Earlier this summer, the wellness therapy clinic that has taken over the storefront decided their wall needed a mural. My quiet greenspace is no more — and the plants don’t seem to have come through it well.

Select image for a closer view.

Changes On The Drive #85

September 1, 2018

I did the walk yesterday, my first day out in a while. It was a beautiful late summer day and I enjoyed it — even though I had to find a place to sit down just about every half-block!

The Mr Greek Donair Store that opened a few months ago seems to be quite busy. They must be better at cooking than at spelling the address of their place:


The old/new laundromat at 2058 Commercial, now called Wash Out, has opened.

It is disappointing to see nothing happening at either of the Falcone storefronts (1810 and 1812). They have sat there rather drably now for six months.

Hard to avoid good reviews for the food at Mezcaleria at 1622 Commercial.  Another one here.

Merchants Workshop is now closed at 1590 Commercial as of 16th August. Looking forward to the Ugly Dumpling which had teased a possible opening in September.


1417 Commercial, the Eastside Pizza has closed.  After renovations, it will have a new owner and a new name:


The maternity store Room for Two at 1409 Commercial appears to be closing.  Please God let it not be replaced by yet another food outlet!


All-Basho is closed at 1399 Commercial. No surprise, really, once Elizabeth Bakery moved out. It looks rather bleak right now.  It is an odd space and I wonder if the building owner will need to re-fit for better function, perhaps as two separate stores.


Havana at 1212 Commercial is still closed after their recent fire, but they say they’ll be back soon.  I won;t put them on the shut list quite yet.


Basil Thai at 1179 Commercial gets a mention for Best Thai in the city, but with a rather mixed review.


The vacant storefront 1151 Commercial in the REACH Community Health Clinic building is still vacant. I heard a rumour it will be leased to municipal party as an election office. In the longer term, talk has it that it may be brought back into the clinic’s operations as they are already feeling the pinch in their brand new space.

The Bombay Kitchen has now opened at 1026 Commercial. I haven’t tried it yet, but I did hear one rather tepid review from a friend.

Kim Kao Thai Kitchen, 903 Commercial, also gets a good review from the Best Thai in Vancouver list.


Vacant/closed/renovating stores on the Drive this month:  2240 Commercial (6 months vacant), 2082 (8 months), 2084 (8 months), 2086 (8 months), 2088 (8 months), 1810 (6 months), 1812 (6 months), 1801 (20 months), Strawberry Bakery site (44 months), 1590 (1 month), 1417 (1 month), 1408 (5 months), 1303 (21 months), 1268 (12 months), 1151 (8 months),


Commercial Drive seems to be thriving. The same cannot be said for retail across much of the Lower Mainland  as this Business in Vancouver article illustrates.


Previous Changes on the Drive editions. 

GWAC’s Next Meeting

August 27, 2018

The next monthly meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council is on Monday 10th September in the Learning Resources Centre under Britannia Library at 7:00pm.  The meeting carries the title “Hot Button Civic Issues and Primer for October’s All Candidates Meeting” and the purpose is described as being …

“to create a list of priority issues about which candidates’ opinions could make a difference.”

This should be a useful forum for discussing issues that will come up in the series of all-candidates’ meetings organised for late September and early October in cooperation with Britannia, Ray-Cam, and other community groups.


Schnitzel and Wine!

August 24, 2018

This coming Sunday (26th), the Downlow Chicken Shack at 905 Commercial is closing out the summer with a special schnitzel and wine menu that sounds like fun.  The event goes from 5:30pm to 10:00pm.  I’m sure there will be crowds.

I could rewrite the Scout’s piece on this and pretend I know what’s going on, but I’m happier to point you to their article.

The GHG Day Out

August 10, 2018

The Grandview Heritage Group does not hold formal meetings in the summer.  However, each year we like to get together for an informal gathering during this period.  This year, we decided to have an extended coffee break at Spade on the Drive.


This is a very fine group of intelligent and interesting individuals and I believe we enjoy each other’s company. It was a memorable and relaxed hour of chatting about heritage houses, the hot weather, and whatever else took our fancy.

Thanks to the Spade staff who looked after us, and Neville who did the heavy lifting on the arrangements.