Monday, December 1, 2008

Granville Street Redux


Hi David,

Here we go again. They are doing yet another beautification project for
Granville Street. I was the project coordinator for the one done in
1974. Council was anxious to complete the project quickly so as to
minimize disruption to merchants. I wrote the report to City Council
which concluded with the following ditty:

The problem concerning the Mall
Is whether to start it this fall,
Or study and wonder
And worry and ponder
And maybe not do it at all.
There are problems of course if we hurry,
That may give you some reason for worry,
The pavement may turn out mauve, purple and blue,
The trees may not transplant,
The merchants may sue,
But somehow I think we can all pull it through
And if not we'll find work in Surrey.

A few years before Granville Mall there was the Theatre Row
beautification project done by the firm of Hoppings Kovacs and Grinnel
in 1967. It added cute street lamps and red sidewalks.

There is nothing wrong with fixing up streets, paving them and planting
trees. That is what City Hall is supposed to do. The City Hall staff
report however is something else. There are no poems. It purports to
give a history of street renovations and gets the facts and dates all
wrong. It speaks of returning the street to a "Great White Way" even
though it no longer is a theatre row. (This will be accomplished with
white light columns redolent of Albert Speers at his best.) It suggests
that it is going to return it to the good old days. However, I recall
very clearly (and have a copy of the Sun somewhere) that in 1972 the
Headline was, " Street People Sink Granville ins Shame!"

The ultimate conceit is this: Planners still imagine that by beautifying
the street they are going to solve the same problem that existed in the
late sixties and early seventies and in spite of successive waves of
beautification, never went away.

What really got to me however was that they cut down trees that were 35
years old. These beech trees were saplings when they were planted. Now
for a couple of blocks the street had at least that going for it. A week
before the new council took office they chopped 'em down. I will be 105
years old when the new ones are the same size as the ones they replaced.


Below is a copy of a letter to the editor I just sent to the Sun.

"There is good news and bad news.

The bad news is that most of the trees on Granville Street have been cut
down.

The good news is that the Engineer and the Planner have wonderful things
in store. According to a Report of May 22, 2008 buried in the City’s web
page, the trees had to be removed to make Granville a “Great Street.”
They are doing this to “elevate community pride” and create a “sense of
place.” Better yet, they tell us that they are going to make it a super
duper “Great White Way”.

Yes, and they are going to plant even better trees. While the seedlings
grow we will all have an uninterrupted view of the glorious facades of
Granville Street.

If tree removal works as well as they expect maybe they’ll try it on
Clayoquot sound."



JONATHAN BAKER

2 comments:

keith said...

when the RAV line was originally proposed, I was in favor of a light rail system that would follow the old Arbutus line eventually ending up on Granville Street as a tram or streetcar system.
The trams would have brought people and attract new businesses, displacing the unattractiveness of the street.
This is where the Canada Line will fail because passengers are hidden underground completely bypassing most of Granville street.

Anonymous said...

And the whole mess on Granville stared when the developers along with city hall let Eatons put that white wall from Georgia to Robson. It should never have happened.