Fairview: Granville Island looks to future

Notable vacancies could change the face of Vancouver hotspot

A wave of change is heading towards Granville Island. The Arts Club Theatre hopes to leave its Revue Stage and costume shop and move into new digs in the fall of 2015 and Emily Carr University of Art + Design is scheduled to depart the bustling island for the Great Northern Way Campus in 2016.

Lisa Ono, manager of public affairs and programming for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which manages the buildings on Granville Island for the federal government, says CMHC has just completed initial consultations about future uses of the Emily Carr buildings with the community, city, Tourism Vancouver, Ocean Concrete and the Granville Island Trust.

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She expects a report to be completed within the next six weeks.

Ono said those consulted want a strong focus on arts, cultural and educational uses and occupation by another educational institution is a “strong possibility.”

“The mix will include more than just those kinds of uses,” she said. “For example there could potentially be some kind of a restaurant or brewpub or something like that in there… but I think that the focus of the buildings is going to be arts, culture, education.”

Condos are not a possibility, says Ono.

“There’s a huge opportunity here to go into a new stage for Granville Island, a new revitalization of Granville Island because [the Emily Carr buildings occupy] such a large space,” she said.

Residents of the Lower Mainland make 85 per cent of the more than 10 million visits to the Fairview hot spot each year, Ono said, and this group includes Emily Carr’s more than 1,700 students and people who work on Granville Island.

Bill Millerd, artistic managing director of the Arts Club Theatre, says his company hasn’t decided when it will leave some of its sites on Granville Island for a new facility to be shared with Bard on the Beach near the former Olympic Village. Like Emily Carr, the Arts Club has a long lease with CMHC that needs to be worked out.

Millerd agrees another educational institution should replace Emily Carr.

“[Students] bring a great energy to the island during the months that school is in operation,” he said.


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