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Commercial Drive park closure sparks backlash

May 14th, 2010 · 16 Comments

People are unhappy when their parks get closed. We heard about it with Oppenheimer Park last year (now opened with grand new design) and now we’re hearing it a Grandview Park.

Here’s the news release from one group. Not sure what the counter-arguments are from others in the area, but perhaps posters can enlighten us all.


Grandview Park needs sprucing up, but not a major makeover that requires full closure for almost a whole year

About 40 people met in Commercial Drive’s Grandview Park last Sunday to discuss alternatives to the approved plan that needs the entire park to be fenced off for nearly a year.

The homeowners, businesspeople, seniors, families, students and others attending the May 9 gathering agree that the park needs sprucing up, but nothing so ambitious that the whole city block-sized area will be off-limits for a year after June 30.

“Grandview Park needs a slight facelift, not a $1.5 million new face,” says area resident and parent Hazel Hoyle, explaining that really it is only the washrooms that are in a bad way. The small waterpark and the playground are showing their age, she says, but other than that, the rest of the park is fine and draws hundreds of people every day through the summer, and even more on weekends.

Hoyle feels that the parks board has not consulted the public adequately, and has instead been disproportionately influenced by a relatively small group of homeowners living near the park. Had the year-long closure been widely known, she says, “we believe there would have been an uproar.”

Located at Commercial and Charles Street, about halfway between First Avenue and East Hastings Street, the park and the adjacent Britannia community centre, school and library are at the heart of the Bohemian, iconic neighbourhood.

The “Friends of Grandview Park” homeowners’ group prompted the redevelopment because it feels the park is dangerous for them and their kids. In particular, according to parks board reports, the Friends complain about “non-families” using the playground, and the regular presence of “illegal inhabitants and illegal protestors.”

East Vancouver resident David Beattie says he and many friends worry that such a major makeover will spark a wider gentrification push that will do to “the Drive” what spiralling house prices have done to Kitsilano. The west side neighbourhood retains very little of the “hippie” feel that it had in the ’60s.

“We want East Vancouver and “the Drive” in particular to be a community where you don’t have to be rich to exist,” says Beattie, 51, “and where we don’t criminalize our neighbours.”

Beattie, a freelance writer and ESL teacher, says he and friends are holding a “Block Party” in the park this next Saturday evening, May 15. In addition to live music and dancing, he says, people will be told of the closure and total makeover plans.

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