One of the defining features of the NO TOWER campaign has been its openness and willingness to meet with residents to discuss the issues surrounding the Kettle/Boffo Tower proposal. Almost every week since the summer, campaign volunteers have manned an information table at Grandview Park. They have met with and talked with literally thousands of Grandview residents and visitors. They are pleased, of course, that so many are willing to understand the campaign’s position and to sign the NO TOWER petition. But they have also been troubled by hearing some sadly inaccurate statements, both about our campaign and about the uses to which the Tower will be put.
To clear up any confusion, we decided to interview members of the NO TOWER Campaign planning group to get the straight goods.
Question: The NO TOWER Campaign are a bunch of NIMBYs who don’t support the operations of the Kettle Friendship Society. Is that so?
BARBARA CAMERON: Absolutely not. We have tried to be clear from the very beginning that we support the Kettle and the expansion it feels is required in Grandview. It is the tower form that we oppose. We believe there are a number of alternative options that can give the Kettle what it needs without imposing a tower on an unwilling community.
Question: Is the NO TOWER Campaign against densification in Grandview?
PENNY STREET: No, that’s not true, While it is a fact that Grandview is already one of the densest neighbourhoods in Vancouver, it seems odd that the City is requiring more density from us. However, we do recognise that the City is growing, and Grandview along with it. We agree with the general conclusion of the Citizens’ Assembly report that Grandview should grow through gentle densification rather than huge residential towers, and that the density expected in Vancouver over the next thirty years should be shared equitably by all neighbourhoods.
Question: Some have argued that the NO TOWER Campaign is a group with a single idea, inflexible in its thinking. Would you agree?
TOM DURRIE: Quite the opposite. The developers are the ones with a single inflexible idea – that the Kettle can only get what it needs if the community is willing to sacrifice itself on the altar of a high-rise condo tower from Boffo Properties. The NO TOWER Campaign, in contrast, has examined a whole raft of possible alternatives that would allow the Kettle to expand as they need while keeping the Drive under five storeys. Once the Tower plan is finally revealed, we will be bringing forward those alternatives to show that there is more than one way to achieve what the Kettle and the community need.
Question: What are you hearing on the street about the Tower?
TOM DURRIE: Speaking with residents at the information table we have heard all sorts of things about the Tower, few of which seem to be accurate. For example, we were told by one resident that they had heard at the Kettle that the Tower was to have “lots” of low-income housing. The Kettle has confirmed that isn’t true, that only the Kettle’s 30 studios – for use by their mental health clients – will be “low-income.”
PENNY STREET: Just last week a man told us that BC Housing would be running the housing in the Tower. When asked where they got that information, the man said that “the woman at the Kettle” told him. Again, this is completely inaccurate so far as the Kettleboffo’s published information is concerned.
JAK KING: The community has loyally supported the Kettle and its work on the Drive for the last forty years. This time, people are saying, the Kettle should prove its commitment to this community by accepting and following the community’s loudly-voiced opposition to a Tower.
Question: Is the NO TOWER Campaign opposed to change in Grandview?
JAK KING: Certainly not. One of the great things about the Drive and Grandview in general has been our ability to accept, adopt and encourage change of all kinds. That is how this neighbourhood has become so famously diverse – in terms of language, race, incomes, sexual orientation, food and entertainment. This didn’t happen because we are opposed to change!
BARBARA CAMERON: The key is that the NO TOWER Campaign, along with our friends and neighbours and supporters, want to have a say in the form the change takes. We should not be forced to accept someone else’s view of how Grandview should change. This is our community, and the future should be ours to choose.