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I have written before about  the Davis Family and their remarkable work on the 100 block of West Tenth Avenue. You know the block~instead of indulging in cash-cropping existing Edwardian and Victorian houses into three storey walkups during the 1970’s and 1980’s this extraordinary family restored them. At that time renovating very old houses and using them for  rental accommodation was not the thing to do.

But the Davis Family led by John Senior (who passed away in the 1980’s)  and his wife Nita (Pat)  with sons John and Geoff persevered, and over five decades the extraordinary streetscape of the 100 block of West Tenth emerged.

Pat Davis passed away last summer and it seemed like the right thing to do to ask the City of Vancouver to do a proclamation in February of 2020 to have a day during “Heritage Week” designated as “Davis Family Day”.  There were several reasons for my request~not only did the Davis Family renovate this block and provide rental housing, they stewarded it, and it made sense to get their community building and volunteerism in the civic record for future generations. They were also instrumental in the development of the zoning for this entire area of Mount Pleasant.

The Davis family maintained the street and helped their neighbourhood. Pat or her son John would be out sweeping the sidewalk and picking garbage off the road in the early morning. There was a bicycle with a basketful of flowers next to a city tree, and two adirondack chairs if someone wanted to sit next to the grassed boulevard. They welcomed neighbours and community.

The Davis Family were involved in all of Mount Pleasant’s planning processes in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The RT-6 zoning in the area was a result of their own work, where existing Victorian houses could be renovated into several units with a coach house in the back.  Laneway houses were also originally a Davis Family innovation.

It seemed a slam dunk for the City to recognize the extraordinary contribution of this family to conserving Mount Pleasant’s history and contributing so greatly to community neighbourliness.  I thought a proclamation to have the Davis Family stewardship in the civic record would be a good thing. But I was wrong.

Even though the city’s own website states that “someone who’s made a major community contribution” could be recognized with a proclamation, the City decided that the Davis Family was not worthy and did not meet the criteria. When I asked to see the criteria, I was told that it was not available, but that someone like billionaire philanthropist Jimmy Pattison could be recognized, not a local family.

From working at City Hall and seeing scores of proclamations to citizens, I know that the above statement is not true. But I also know that the Davis Family  proudly displayed a plaque indicating that their restoration work was done with no governmental assistance of any kind. Pat Davis would be chuckling in heaven  that even at this date the City of Vancouver is still not recognizing the lifework and legacy of this family to Mount Pleasant and to this place.

City of Vancouver there is still time to do the right thing. Please recognize this family and their lifetime of stewardship to Mount Pleasant and to the city.

Please proclaim “Davis Family Day” during Heritage week in February 2020.

Please recognize this living legacy. It truly is the right thing to do.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. This is a real surprise. Like you, I thought they represented a kind of grass roots civic improvement that would be lauded by everyone on staff and council. Re-use of buildings is green, yes? Being community leaders, which they were, is important – you just have to look all over the Mount Pleasant area to see how many people were inspired by their example. The Heritage Commission passed a motion supporting this initiative – evidently it was trumped by something else.

  2. The Davis’s contribution to Vancouver heritage is unassailable. Their contribution to strengthening a sense of devotion to the community was extraordinary, though sometimes controversial (driving out street prostitution on nearby Broadway with an oversized military vehicle was over-the-top; it merely migrated to Fraser and Kingsway). Living adjacent to the Davis Block for five years was a pleasure, and I still enjoy walking by and pausing at their beautiful houses 35 years later. Talk about creating a sense of place.

    The designation was earned.

  3. John, Geoff and Pat have inspirations to the rest of us who have fixed up our houses in the same area. John’s dedication extended further than his property – the Granitoid (TM) street surface in the 2500 block of Columbia St. next to their houses was also a restoration driven by Pat and John, and moved the city to protect 9 other heritage street surfaces in the city, though to be honest, the city has pretty much ignored that protection ever since. Certainly the heritage brick street surface on the 2500-block of Alberta St. is gone, never to return with City staff not even returning calls any more about restoration.

    It seems the job of education is never over, and most particularly with city staff who seem to need to take refresher courses every decade or so to remember why heritage elements are important in this city that has so little of its own history left. And perhaps this is a possible reason for the refusal of the honour?

  4. Honour those who made the city an amazing place to live! Have some respect Vancouver – or
    risk becoming a souless place with no credible history… It’s not just fancy chandeliers under bridges and mountain views that make a city great… ITS THE PEOPLE

  5. Keyword “garbage” brought up this post – these good folks picked up garbage from their street.

    My unhappy observation is that there is so much broken glass on our laneways – and it’s growing – thanks to the recycling religion.

    Street sweepers don’t do laneways. How do we get the broken glass off our lanes? It’s terrible for tires; not good for dog paws. It’s ugly.

    Maybe have a bylaw similar to snow removal?

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