Grandview-Woodland: Drive signage hits overdrive

There's no other street in Vancouver quite like Commercial Drive. There are, however, now dozens of streets in the surrounding area currently misidentified as "The Drive" after a recent marketing campaign by the Commercial Drive Business Society (CDBS) took a wrong turn.

Since many people refer to the iconic Grandview-Woodland strip simply as the Drive, the local business improvement association decided to order dozens of new signs that would add the term to existing Commercial Drive signage.

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Newly installed CDBS executive director Jane McFadden said city workers then accidentally put some of them up on neighbouring streets when they were installed in June. She said many of the signs not on Commercial Drive itself will be removed but isnt sure when.

"To be honest, I think the city is backed up," said McFadden. "They are definitely taking them down in the surrounding area but they havent confirmed a date with us just because there are so many of them on holiday."

Most new signs on the Drive itself feature a logo of the Italian flag while those on side streets do not.

McFadden, a former board member of the Yaletown BIA, wasnt involved when the decision was made to install the signs and said she didnt know how much they cost.

Jak King, co-founder of the Grandview Heritage Group, said he finds it difficult to believe city workers would install signs anywhere they werent told specifically to do so. He said he called 311, the citys information line, after hearing dozens of complaints from local residents and ended up talking to Phil Wong, an engineer with the citys traffic department.

"I certainly got the impression from him that there had been some long correspondence with the BIA, several years worth, about getting these signs up so Im sure it wasnt a mistake," said King. "Its all very well and good for them to want to brand it, but their remit is only on the Drive, they dont deal with anything east or west of the Drive. The city shouldnt just go around doing these damn things without speaking to people like the GWAC [Grandview Woodland Area Council] and other local organizations that represent the residents."

The Courier wasnt able to speak with anyone from the citys traffic operations department but, as the paper was being ready to be sent to press, it received an email from a corporate communications staffer saying "crews are going to start taking the signs down in residential areas as soon as today and work with the staff they have available to complete the work over the next few weeks."

The CDBS is one of 22 non-profit BIAs in Vancouver and funding for each is provided by the city as a grant which is recovered through a special BIA tax levy on light industrial and commercial properties. BIA boards annual budget requests require approval from their members at a general meeting before being submitted to city council. The CDBS received $435,343 in funding for its 2013-14 budget, a three per cent increase from the previous year.

Earlier this month, it launched a lawsuit against a Commercial Drive pharmacy for using the CDBS logo a circular brand that contains the words "Totally Drive certified" without permission. Its other recent initiatives include organizing the annual Italian Day Festival and sponsoring other cultural events, putting up fabric banner signs and converting the recently installed giant coffee cup sculpture in Grandview Park into a flower garden after residents complained it was becoming an unofficial garbage can and posed a danger to children. They also help pay the wages of the Kettle Friendship Societys street cleaners.

afleming@vancourier.com

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