Grandview-Woodland is one of Vancouver's oldest neighbourhoods. The neighbourhood, which lies to the East of downtown along the Burrard Inlet, has fallen behind the city's image of high-rise condominiums and shiny glass buildings. Many of the local houses and businesses date back to the neighbourhood's founding in the early 1900's - and some residents want to keep it that way.
The pride in the neighbourhood's history has risen partly due to the Grandview Heritage Group. The two-year-old non-profit is the brainchild of five local historians - Michael Kluckner, Bruce MacDonald, Penny Street, Maurice Guibord and Jak King, who discussed the history of Grandview-Woodland around a kitchen table. Since then, they have welcomed other heritage enthusiasts to the club, and will soon receive the City of Vancouver Heritage Award for Advocacy.
The award was created in 2007 and is given out every two years to six recipients who have completed projects involving the preservation and education on Vancouver's heritage. The award is described as an acknowledgement of "the special accomplishments, projects and efforts which have furthered the goal of heritage conservation in the City."
"It's a wonderful recognition of what we've done," said King. "We've only been around for two years, but we've accomplished a lot."
One of the group's accomplishments is the centenary sign project. Each year, the group selects 25 houses over the age of 100 and makes lawn signs that feature scannable QR codes, which lead to a website about the history of the house on the group's website. The group has worked to not only showcase the history of Grandview-Woodland but to protect that heritage as well. King says that one of the first goals was to make sure heritage was represented in Grandview-Woodland' community plan, which is currently being updated by city staff.
"[Grandview-Woodland] is a neighbourhood that is special to me personally, and I think its special to Vancouver as well," King said. "One of our key goals is to educate people on its heritage so that they can protect it in the future."
With large scale developments and renovictions becoming a norm for many Vancouver neighbourhoods, including Strathcona and the Downtown Eastside, the Grandview Heritage Group represents an alternative attitude not exclusive to the area.
"These buildings have proven their worth over the years," King said. "They're still usable and they're much more affordable. There's no point in building a new building for the sake of new, the greenest building is always one that has already been built. I think that changing the architecture would change the entire neighbourhood."
Yet King admits that change can sometimes be necessary for a neighbourhood to survive. "I'm fascinated by the First Avenue viaduct. In the mid-1930s Grandview was failing as a neighbourhood, so local businessmen called for a viaduct to connect it to the city. It was that project that saved Grandview as a neighbourhood and kept it viable_ Our history has to inform our future."