GWAC Meeting: September

September 4, 2019

The next meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) is next Monday, 9th, at 7:00pm at the Learning Resource Centre under the Britannia Library.  The main item on the agenda is the proposed development on Grant Street.

Quoting GWAC’s mailer:

“After almost 2 years in the planning process, and multiple rejections, the public hearing for the final version of this project, a 5-storey building at 1535-1557 Grant Street, will go before  City Council on September 12th. This proposal has caused significant local push back  and you can find out more about why at the upcoming GWAC meeting, Monday September 9th.  Guest speakers will provide background and analysis on the proposal and its implications; there will be lots of time for questions and discussion.

This project offers neither affordable rental nor social housing yet the developer is asking for a full waiver of Development Cost Levies (DCLs) and Community Amenity Contributions (CACs).  If approved, this rezoning has the potential to set a precedent for similar large scale proposals in GW. 

The proposal itself calls for a 5 storey building on a narrow street with no back lane, which will dwarf the adjacent homes.  Some of the concerns expressed by neighbors include: 

  • It is a narrow, single lane street, on a steep hill 
  • it is unsafe for regular traffic & emergency vehicles
  • It won’t accomodate fire trucks or garbage trucks
  • It’s not affordable rental even on a living wage
  • It’s inconsistent with the promise of the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan
  • It has inadequate parking 
  • And it has been rejected in its appearances in front of the Planning department’s own advisory board

…..Yet the developers & the City planning department have continued to push it through.

If it passes, this building and the approval process it’s gone through will set a precedent for future development around the Drive & throughout Grandview Woodland.

We agree the City needs housing, but do we need unaffordable, unsafe and unsuitable housing in an already dense location?”

At the time of the project’s public meeting a year ago, I wrote my own views on the project.  The GWAC meeting is open to everyone, so come along and have your own say.


Vision (And Reimer) Still Debasing Grandview’s Community

July 9, 2019

The Napier Greenway, that short section of non-road leading from Commercial to Britannia, is one of the joys of our neighbourhood.  It is a restful oasis of trees, plants and benches in the heart of our concrete jungle. It is maintained that way through the hard work of the volunteers of the Britannia Neighbours group who tend to the gardens and organize litter removal.

We understand, thanks to ILiveInEastVancouver, that during its dying moments, the last Vision Vancouver Council voted — in a secret in camera meeting — to change the name of Napier Greenway to Margaret Mitchell Plaza.  Apparently led by Andrea Reimer — famous for disparaging and ignoring local community groups, and probably the worst Councillor ever to pretend to represent us — Vision’s majority took this step without any consultation with Britannia Neighbours or anyone else that I am aware of.

(Let me hasten to say that Margaret Mitchell, long our MP, deserves all the recognition we can pile on her. This complaint has nothing to do with our fond memories of her).

We should all be upset that they took this step without consultation.  We should also wonder how or why the Vision Council decided to make this change in an in camera meeting.  I just re-read sections 165.1 and 165.2 of the Vancouver Charter which states that all meetings should be open and public except for very specific matters to do with legalities, personnel, and similar stuff. I would love to know from the City Solicitor how this change was allowed to be made in secret.

More importantly, I hope that the current batch of Councillors will reverse this decision and actually ask the residents of Grandview what they think.  By doing so they can prove themselves a lot more democratic than Reimer and Vision ever were.


Slacklining In The Park

April 25, 2019


I love it when slackliners come to practice at Salsbury Park.

In Salsbury Park Today

February 12, 2019


I think all the neighbourhood kids were here this afternoon; they were all over the park, just loving the snow and the slope.

Select the image for a closer view.

Hanging Around At Salsbury Park

January 12, 2019


The apartment building that edges the east end of Salsbury Park is covered in a pebbledash stucco. The bumps and crevices apparently give enough grip for a squirrel to go climbing straight up and down.  I sat on the bench in the glorious winter sunshine for quite some time fascinated as this clever animal played with gravity. I think she was concerned about something on the ground, a cat perhaps; but eventually she climbed down and got on with her day.

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.

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.