As the city prepares for a little Woodward’s opening ceremony tomorrow, the word has gone around at 12th and Main that the lucky departments being considered for a transfer into the city’s space at Woodward’s are cultural planning, social planning and housing.
That’s not sitting too well with many of them (about 35 people in all), who feel like they’ll be cut off from city hall (where they spend much of their time attending meetings anyway) and it won’t particularly benefit the Downtown Eastside, since their departments aren’t exactly storefront operations where local residents will have a counter to belly up to to offer their opinions on the housing, culture and social planning issues of the day. So it won’t help mitigate in any way local advocates’ fears that they’re just being targeted for gentrification, either directly or indirectly, by the city.
Says one unnamed and unhappy staffer, who says the deal has been worked out internally and not gone to council yet: “We assume the politicians are not really aware of how strange a move this will be. It’s one of those short-term solutions with long-term bad consequences.”
Of course, it’s a far cry from what architect Peter Busby suggested as a way of revitalizing the Downtown Eastside several year ago, when he proposed that most of city staff be moved to the new Woodward’s building. That would really boost local businesses and bring life to the area, he said. (We see what they’ve done for Cambie and Broadway.)
While some people think this is a move to fill up space that couldn’t be rented, in fact the city made a commitment to putting staff in the building a couple of years ago after it put pressure on the federal government to move some people in. (Feds say yes, if you match us — just like they do with money!)
It just wasn’t clear at the time who was actually going to be shuffled over there. But since leases at City Centre were coming up for the housing/cultural/social planning people, they became the natural candidates.
On a related note, some people had expressed doubt that engineering is really going to be moving into the new Crossroads site that Lululemon bailed on. It looks to me like that’s actually going ahead, since if you look at the city’s purchasing section on the website, it has recently posted a request to provide office furniture for 85,000 square feet of space there. Unless that all ends up being taken over for the new city manager’s office (joke, people), it seems like a guarantee that engineering is moving.