No Means No! but not at Vancouver’s City Hall

Growing Weed

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You do your best to eradicate them, but they just keep growing. Makes you wonder, what does it take to keep these nasty developer weeds down? You ask, how many times do you have to shout at city hall before they hear you? Perhaps Vancouver City Hall is excluded from No means No! What else can you expect from a governing body who says yes to chickens in your back yard. The kids at city hall may have another rotten egg in their basket.

Posted herein with permission, consider this impassioned plea by someone hoping to save the character of her neighborhood.

Addressed to the following – Mayor Gregor Robertson, Vancouver City Council,Scott Barker,Kitsilano.ca,Vancouver Sun Newspaper,Province Newspaper,Vancouver Courier, she insists the neighborhood nest is just fine the way it is.

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“Re: Development Application DE412784 (2080 W Broadway)

I am writing to you to implore you to stop the proposed development at Maple and Broadway.

I am a long-time resident of Kitsilano and Fairview. I graduated from Henry Hudson Elementary and Kitsilano Secondary schools. I grew up in Kits Point and have rented in numerous parts of Kitsilano. I am now a proud homeowner in Fairview

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I love my neighbourhood – because it IS a neighbourhood. When I bought my condo in 2003, the majority of owners in my typical three-storey Fairview building (circa 1971) were original owners. For as long as anyone can remember, we have been served by the businesses along south Granville and the IGA, liquor store and David Hunter Gardens at Maple and Broadway.

Over recent years, the majority of the south Granville shops have become high-end stores, the like of Meinhardt’s, Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn. In fact, last year, the last two green grocers, along with the meat market, finally shut their doors. Since then, there has been no reason for many local residents to walk along Granville – the south Granville we used to know is almost gone. Thank goodness the Stanley Theatre was saved. That fight took almost six years!

But the residents of Fairview and Kitsilano have been fighting much longer for the property at Maple and Broadway. I have been told that, other than for an initial five-year lease in 1960, the David Hunter store has been on a month-to-month rental. Not a great recipe for growing a successful business, but it has thrived, even winning the Vancouver Courier’s Business of the Year award in 2005. Not only is it a regular shopping destination for the Kitsilano/Fairview residents, but other Vancouver residents come from miles around to shop at this family-owned nursery and garden store.

As for the liquor store, it has been, and still is, the busiest government liquor store in the province. And now that the very small liquor store on south Granville has been privatized, it is only one of two remaining government liquor stores west of Cambie Street. And there are rumours of development plans for the other store at Arbutus Village.

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Lastly, our beloved IGA. On Saturdays you will find a mix of neighbours chatting, kids in sports uniforms selling chocolate almonds, dogs waiting patiently while their owners are inside shopping, the man selling the street newspaper, and the charity “du jour”. And then there is the iconic shape of the mid-20th Century building, and the light streaming down the wide aisles. I know that the long-time employees there worried a few years ago when the new IGA opened just two blocks west. But the neighbourhood has continued to support the “old” store for a number of reasons. One, because it is convenient. Two, because it is a nice store to shop at (especially compared to the small, dark, below-grade, new store at Vine Street). But number three, and maybe most importantly, because the Maple and Broadway staff are people who we have been dealing with and becoming friends with over the years. And in some cases (such as mine), those staff members are also our neighbours.

These three neighbourhood services have always been a feature used to market new developments around the area. This has even continued in the more recent residences, from Tapestry at The O’Keefe (a seniors development on Yew Street) to the newer townhomes on 8th Avenue, and even for the yet-to-be-completed Pulse complex next to the IGA (even back to its introduction in the Vancouver Sun newspaper dated June 23, 2007).

The notice board regarding the proposed development at Maple and Broadway is very misleading to the public. The notice specifically says that “[t]he separate site containing the existing IGA store and liquor store is not included in this application.” However, if the project is approved to proceed, the David Hunter store will be the first casualty, probably just before its 50th anniversary. Then, as SOON as the construction fence goes up, the IGA and liquor store will be forced to close because they won’t have the parking lot to be able to sustain their businesses. This, I believe, is the ultimate intention of the developers as the killing of the two major businesses opens the door for them to apply for a rezoning of the back property from its current “industrial” category.

There is a reason that Vancouver has been viewed as a very liveable city, and that is its neighbourhoods. The approval of this proposed development will not only put many Vancouver residents out of work, and will be devastating to the many local residents who depend on having shopping within easy walking distance and the larger number of Vancouver residents who have shopped at Maple and Broadway for years, but it will be the destruction of the core of our neighbourhood.

We depend on our city government to think to the future of the city and its neighbourhoods. Do we need two more expensive condo developments (one on the Broadway side and another that will undoubtedly be added once the IGA and liquor store businesses are killed)? NO! Do we need or want two seven-storey complexes that will block the sunshine, create more traffic issues, cause more residents to have to use their cars to perform weekly chores and truly make our neighbourhood a “corridor”?

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Courtesy Vancouver City – ©Howard Bingham Hill Architects Full Plan Available

For too long the residents of Fairview and East Kitsilano have had to fight against the developer of the day on this property. For too long the businesses at Maple and Broadway have had to put up with landlords who do not have any interest in being a “good” landlord and provide their tenants with decent lot maintenance and the security to run long-term businesses. It’s time that the City stands up for its residents and looks at the long-term sustainability of this threatened neighbourhood.

Robyn Kendall

robynkendall@shaw.ca


*Disclaimer: The opinions of Robyn Kendall are hers and should not be considered to be those of this blog or this blog’s owner.

**However, chickens in the back yards of a major city is just stupid!

About Larry Yatkowsky

Larry is a recognized real estate expert. A veteran professional, his experienced counsel leads Vancouverites in his west side community to place their trust in a man passionate about his work. Uncompromising ethics bring a balanced approach to realizing your real estate dreams.

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*Disclaimer: Statistics Courtesy REBGV. While believed to be accurate they are not guaranteed.
**Numbers provided may vary as they are dynamically posted by the REBGV.

Reader Comments:

Mike Says:
April 21st, 2009 at 7:18 am

It’s hard to take Robyn’s comments very seriously. The are all candy coated.
What is not mentioned is that the IGA/Liquor/behind David Hunter, is the absolute hub of bottle binners and where they then like to spend their dollars on cheap beer and loiter. The whole property is filthy was garbage because of it.
A new development would be a fresh change and much needed. There is nothing nostalgic about that property. It wreaks of the early 60’s and it simply acts as a magnet for homeless people to gather in the surrounding alleys close to the bottle depot and liquor store.

Robyn Says:
April 21st, 2009 at 11:10 am

The binners that I have seen around there (and who were so gracious to me on Saturday while I was outside the IGA) are not entirely to blame for the disgraceful look of the property. The property owners could not care less about keeping the area clean or maintained. Just witness the state of the parking lot itself. Yes, there are some binners that don’t care. But I also periodically witness that lack of respect in my own apartment building — and they are not binners (that I know of).

The binners that spoke to me on Satuday all said that they were grateful for the pleasant staff at the IGA and that they are not treated like scum (or like the trash that unfortunately gathers around the property?).

But hey, let’s just take out the nuisance of having the businesses, so that the binners have to wander down the street to the next neighbourhood. That will fix the problem — passing it down the line to the next grocery store.

PS: Reeks of the 60s? I am a child of the 60s — and proud of it!

Mike Says:
April 21st, 2009 at 3:17 pm

When I say “reeks of the EARLY 60’s” I’m referring to Modernist design. It’s hardly a reference damning the social evolution and those who grew up in it. Get a grip.

A Home Depot will provide everything that Hunter’s does and more (save the ‘Big Box is bad, i want a neighboorhood store” speech. It’s tired and borderline cliche nowadays. It’s more than a little ‘Nimby’ too). It will also reduce traffic in the city. The number of trips that Westside (west of Oak) residents make to Home Depot on Terminal is enormous and it’s not really a place where you can take the bus. This cuts all of that traffic from having to go further than Arbutus.
The liquor store will be remodeled into a “Signature” store like the one on Cambie (perhaps in a renovated version of the IGA, much like Cambie was) and everyone will be happy.

Clinging to a relic of a site like this one is a lousy battle. Shame on me for not see the nostalgia in polite binners either.

Robyn Says:
April 21st, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Okay, Mike, it’s agreed that I’ll get a grip, but you have to find your sense of humour.

Talk to the developer’s representative about why they are not touting a new, boutique-style liquor store. Maybe because they have finally gotten a grip themselves and realized that they can talk all they like, but until they change the rules about how close a liquor outlet can be to schools and churches, a new permit would never be issued to any business in that block.

I agree that there are all sorts of arguments for and against development of this property. And I’m not trying to change your mind, or anyone else’s. But the City needs to have an honest, open, accountable and inclusive process to deal with the varying opinions, and should take into account the needs of the entire neighbourhood, not just a 2-block radius (which is what they targeted for info).

My job as rabble-rouser will be complete when I am satisfied that ALL residents of Fairview/Kitsilano have been consulted and the City has worked WITH the community to assess ALL the options for the development of this property and the future of this neighbourhood.

RS Says:
April 27th, 2009 at 1:12 am

Say good-bye to the community and hello to driving. My best guess is that the IGA/Liquor store will be closed in January as they will be unable to operate without adequate parking. Say good-bye to the busiest liquor store and the busiest IGA in all of B.C. Say hello to small retailers and businesses that don’t serve the needs of the community. Hello laser clinics, hair salons, medical offices, etc. (Like they need more of those types of businesses in the area). I am not opposed to the development but the retail spaces that are being shown in architectural drawings are small. The current IGA store is 27,000 square feet, far larger than any retail space in the new development plans. For those of you who live and shop in the area I send my condolences. The development removes the anchor retailers of the community, grocery, liquor store and garden shop.

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