Architecture
March 7, 2019

Sam Sullivan: Was the defeat of the Four Seasons project a victory?

 

Worth bringing forward: Sam Sullivan took the opportunity to comment on the upcoming ‘Tales from the West End’ talk on the People’s Park fight at Coal Harbour in the early 1970s.  (Click on headline for all illustrations and text.)

The 1971 model. Much more on the project by the invaluable John Mackie at The Sun

Sam Sulllivan:

Actually the original proposal (1964) was 15 towers of guaranteed rental for 3,200 residents. Towers from 15 to 30 stories. There would have also been a 13 story hotel near the entrance to the park. Critics didn’t mention the apartment rental and focussed on the smaller so-called ‘luxury’ hotel.

Instead Council spent $30 million in today’s money to turn this into a park. This depleted five years of park aquisition money which would have been used for park deficient east side neighbourhoods instead creating an additional park beside the 100,000 acre Stanley Park.

Gerald Sutton-Brown believed we could convert waterfront industrial land into high density towers to provide quality homes and keep down the price of housing. This would have been years ahead of the rest of the world. TEAM opposed this and fired him. They implemented their vision in South False Creek which had lower densities than a typical single detached house neighbourhood. It would be almost two decades before Coal Harbour, Concord Pacific and City Gate would revive Sutton-Brown’s vision.

TEAM went on to oppose townhouses in single house neighbourhoods(Shannon Mews), tried to end the Vancouver Special by removing the basement exemption, end any approval of residential towers for over a decade and introduce processes that have succeeded in preventing the densification of RS neighbourhoods

When I was in elementary school our teacher took us on a tour of Peoples’ Park and met the protesters. It all seemed quite wonderful. But in light of what has happened to the price of housing since we lost Sutton-Brown, I think of the apt symbolism of what happened to the city vision, looking in our purse for what was on our head.

Bayshore Gardens and Harbour Park today.

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To appreciate West Vancouver, it helps to understand this map:

This is the region’s streetcar and interurban system at its peak around 1940.

 

Take a closer look at the North Shore portion:

 

Notice where the No 3 streetcar stops: at the Capilano River, the border with West Vancouver.  At that point, if you were heading further west, you’d switch to a Blue Bus, separately owned and operated by the district municipality since 1912 – reputed to be the first bus-only transit system in North America.  And though contracted with TransLink today, it still maintains a distinct identity.

Why isn’t it fully part of TransLink, you ask, given that routes and fares are otherwise integrated?  Frances Bula speculates: “I’d suggest that it’s attractive politically, as it reinforces the image of West Van as a place that’s a little special, set apart, and with superior municipal services.”  Frances is right: Blue Buses for blue bloods.

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March’s featured storyteller is Kevin Dale McKeown, editor and publisher of The West End Journal.

As part of his “People’s Park” story, Kevin recalls the spring of 1971 when Vancouver’s Yippie movement occupied and built a tent city on the proposed site of a new Four Seasons Hotel at the entrance to Stanley Park – where Devonian Harbour Park is today.

Kevin was in the thick of the action, helping out at the camp kitchen. The protest lasted a year, Mayor Tom Campbell called it “a breakdown of society”, and obviously the campers / protesters won the battle.

Today the main attraction at the site is not a glitzy international hotel but the bronze statue of a woman sitting on a park bench, apparently searching in her purse for the glasses we can all see sitting atop her head. But things could have gone differently.

 

JJ Bean Cafe, 1209 Bidwell Street (Bidwell & Davie)

Wednesday, March 20

4:30 to 6:00 pm

Admission: Free, Complimentary coffee and tea thanks to JJ Bean

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If there’s meme believed about Vancouver, it must be this: A city in constant change, bulldozing its past for the latest glassy tower.  And yet – at least with respect to its historic main street – it has hardly changed at all.

Not the Main Street, of course (originally Westminster Road) but the north-south arterial that ran through the centre of the CPR land grant, from its waterfront station (now, heh,  Waterfront Station) to False Creek.  Our main street has always been Granville Street.

The boys at Changing Vancouver are featuring it in their current post:

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How many Churches and Schools along Burrard Street can you identify?

February’s storytellers, educators and historians, Isaac Vanderhorst and
Janet Leduc will intrigue us with their story, “West End Schools and
Churches, 1890s to 1930s”.

Discover the central role schools and churches
played in early community life. Bring your stories and photos to share
with your neighbours.

 

JJBean Coffee Shop, 1209 Bidwell @ Davie

Sunday, February 24

4:30 to pm, story telling from 4:45 – 5:45

Admission: Free, Complimentary coffee and tea thanks to JJBean

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February 22, 2019

Vancouver’s Jericho Lands are essentially 90 acres of greenfield, located amid some of Canada’s most expensive and most desirable real estate.  [Ocean Views!!]

Here’s your chance to have your say about the evolving plan. Remember, though, Ken Sim and the NPA did not win council — so you won’t get a veto, even if that were possible here, given who owns the land.

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You know them~those buildings you walk up to that look heritage and wonderful from the front but once you are in them they are kind of a modern box. In many cases these are heritage buildings that have had their facades maintained as part of the development permit process, with the new modern building tucked in behind.

Facade Retention 200 block of Knightsbridge, London

Christopher Cheung in this Tyee article explores  why just maintaining a building’s old facade was perceived as conserving it, and why some developers will preserve the whole building, “Some developers will do more than the minimum preservation required if there’s an incentive: the prestige of saving a building beloved by the community; incorporating heritage features to make their condo project stand out; or to win extra density from the city.”

Christopher observes: “Density for preservation is a tricky exchange. Across the Salish Sea in Victoria, heritage advocates lobbied city council this month, worried that too much extra height and density is being offered to developers who are protecting too little heritage in the city’s Old Town.”

Architect Javier Campos, the president of Heritage Vancouver who bluntly states “Keeping a façade is an acceptable thing, and it was very popular in the 1980s and ’90s, but it’s so unidimensional. It’s such a shallow commemoration. To me, it’s one step above having a plaque. If it’s significant enough, the answer should be restoration.”

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The theme of ‘Heritage: The Tie that Binds’ highlights the power of cultural heritage to bring people together and create a sense of belonging.

 

Wednesday, Feb 20: Places That Matter: Community Celebration

Hear the stories of Places That Matter sites from the people and organizations who brought their history forward.This free celebration includes refreshments and displays related to Places That Matter sites and local history, a short program of inspirational stories featuring our Master of Ceremonies, Author, Musician and Historian Aaron Chapman, as well as live music from the Vancouver Chamber Players Wind Trio.

Heritage Hall, 3102 Main St. 6pm – 8:30pm, FREE

 

Saturday, Feb 23: Tea at Chinatown House

Visit Chinatown House, an innovative new hub in a converted building that is providing space for co-working and cultural programming. Hear about the project from Leslie Shieh, co-founder of Tomo Spaces and learn about the intangible cultural heritage of the area from Helen Lee, a planner with the City of Vancouver’s Chinatown Transformation Team. Cantonese instructor and certified tea master, Christine Wong, will serve tea and discuss its relevance in Chinese traditions and everyday practices.

Chinatown House, 188 E Pender St. 1:30pm – 3pm, $20

 

Sunday, Feb 24: Oakridge Community History Walking Tour

In the post-war period, the Oakridge area was the hub of Vancouver’s Jewish community, home to many families and community organizations. Join Michael Schwartz, Director of Community Engagement at the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC for a tour of this neighbourhood. Visit architectural landmarks including the Jewish Community Centre, King David High School, modernist homes, and Temple Sholom synagogue, and learn how these spaces provided the foundations for a vibrant community.

Oakridge Neighbourhood. 10am – 12pm, $20

 

To purchase tickets or for more information visit www.vancouverheritagefoundation.org or call 604 264 9642.

 

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The Vancouver City Planning Commission (VCPC) has released it’s 2018 Emerging Milestones: a list of events, policies and decisions that it considers relevant in the shaping of Vancouver as a unique, urban settlement. Compiled by urban planners, architects, historians, and residents of Vancouver, these milestones are related to land-use or social, cultural, and economic events of the last year.

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