Important: Overnight Warming Centre Open

February 16, 2018

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Grant Street Development: The Neighbours Speak

February 6, 2018

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.

The scheduled speaker was Malcolm Bromley, general manager of Vancouver Parks. However, for the second month in a row he cancelled his appearance at the last minute.  It is as if Grandview and the east side doesn’t count for anything in his mind. I doubt he will be invited again.

In Bromley’s place, 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.

The neighbours are now awaiting the developer to make a formal application to the city for rezoning. The GWAC Board will consider their position on the development.

 


Bank Robberies On The Drive

February 4, 2018

Yesterday there were two bank robberies on Commercial.  The Royal at First & Commercial was hit first at about 1:00pm, followed by the Commerce at Broadway & Commercial half an hour later.

Not being the brightest bulbs in the chandelier, the alleged robbers took off in a stolen Porsche Cayenne (how inconspicuous is that?) which they immediately crashed causing a four-car pileup at Clark & First, injuring four innocents.

At the scene of the crash, the police blocked them in and they were taken into custody. According to the CTV report, the take down was dramatic:

“Ryland Chernomaz was on Clark Drive at the time of the incident. He said he saw the police vehicles do U-turns and hit the Cayenne, then saw officers get out with their guns drawn. ‘He’s on the ground, there’s another girl with him, crying,’ Chernomaz said of the moment of the arrest. ‘I’ve never seen anything like it. Crazy stuff’.”

None of the news reports I have seen mention how the bank staff are or how much was stolen.


Bike Share On The Drive

November 16, 2017

It looks as though Vancouver’s bike share program will be expanding to include Commercial and Victoria Drives next year.

According to a report in the Courier, Vancouver City Council will be putting in $1 million of a $3 million cost to expand the system east of Main Street. The system will now cover the area from Victoria to Arbutus north of 16th Avenue.

I am supportive of the program in general. However, given the millions we as taxpayers are putting into this — and the fact that residents are still being charged $10 a day for the use of a bike — I hope the company’s profits will be an open book.


This Is Class War

November 7, 2017

It is not often that the rough edges of the class war show themselves on our consciousness; they are generally far better hidden than this. But the disgraceful rhetoric concerning homeless shelters — in Marpole, and GW, and elsewhere — is one such rough edge.

“Oh yes, we support these Warming Centres and longer-term homelessness solutions; of course we do,” declare the faux liberals, but then add: “But ONLY if we get extra security for our homes and our schools.”

Why do they think they need that? Why do they consider that a group of homeless people they don’t know requires additional security? Why do they think these homeless people are more criminal and potentially violent than any other group in the neighbourhood?

Where are the police statistics to show that these ideas are based on facts rather than just bloody-mindedness?  Are they basing their ideas on Trumpian “alternate truths,”  perhaps?  The Big Lie wins, is that the plan?

The only basis for this scaremongering is class war.  Somehow, really poor people shouldn’t have all the rights and assumptions of innocence that we should give to, say, a middle manager or storekeeper; and certainly none of the rights and privileges of the really rich should percolate downward. Moreover, the really poor — unlike any other economic class — need to be subject of intense surveillance and narrowing of opportunities even though the vast percentage of crime is committed by people resident in housing, against family members, neighbours, and the community: not by the homeless.

This alternate narrative is followed relentlessly by the media: local crime buys eyeballs, and eyeballs buys advertising dollars and thus produces profits. Commerce is simple. Human interest is profit-driven.

This is class war.  It almost invariably leads to authoritarian, and sometimes totalitarian, regimes.  It is time the real liberals spoke up against the Big Lie narratives, and in support of the Warming Centres and other homeless remediation strategies, however imperfect they may be.

 


Grandview Warming Centre

November 6, 2017

Note that the Britannia Community Centre space at 1739 Venables Street — what used to be Astorino’s — will be open as a Warming Centre tonight from 9:00pm to 8:30am.


Why Broadway Was Closed

October 4, 2017

Three weeks or so ago I posted about upcoming disruption at Broadway and Commercial due to construction at the Sky Train station.  Translink have now issued a short time lapse movie about what went on: