It's hard to believe that just a little more then a year ago, the demolition of the 41 buildings that made up the South Side Colborne Street commenced. There were those who cheered and those who were very angry. There were speeches, protest marches, appeals to City Council and even letters to the editors. Facebook had groups cheering on the demolition and groups who were opposed. A number of people in the community thought that it was about time and a number who thought it was totally ridiculous, a waster of money and also was going to have a negative effect upon the housing market in this city. Groups supporting looked at the buildings and considered them eyesores, groups opposing, or supporting the buildings, saw marvellous history and great potential, if only someone would have a vision and the finances to do something with these building that had suffered years of neglect.
All that ended when the first crane starting the assault.
A good crowd was on hand to watch the proceeding, including a few from the sitting Council. I don't know if a lot of people were cheering that day, there was a lot of people on hand to watch and record the goings-on, I mean how many times in a life do you get to witness a whole side of a street demolished?
We could watch building after building destroyed by the cranes, and bulldozers. We saw the material gathered up and then moved to fill landfill sites throughout the region.
To celebrate the anniversary, the Station Coffee House and Gallery is putting on a exhibition of media created during the demolition. There is a lot of pictures taken and video shot of the entire experience. It's taking place on July 2nd. Now likely it would be interesting, but perhaps in the interest of controversy, the people putting on the show have invited former Mayor Mike Hancock and former counsellor Mark Littell to the gala launch. There is a little frothing for this.
I suppose the question is now, what next? There is a plan to build a very nice athletic centre/YMCA complex, that would service both the University and the community at large. The cost has been estimated at $50,000,000. I think it will not happen very soon.
Still, we have a very nice new park in the downtown core:
It is sunnier downtown, and we have a very nice view of the Casino. All of which is worth the $30,000,000 it has cost the city to remove those 'eyesores'.
A recent linked was posted by Lloyd Alter on Facebook considering the potential decaying building can bring to urban revitalization. The writer asked the question: Can decaying buildings lure top talent?
The key paragraph is this one:
It may be overlooked, but one key incentive for creative clusters is older buildings that entrepreneurs can convert. “At a certain point you want to take advantage of something that is decaying or running down, and let new use adapt to opportunity,” says Gordon Price, director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University, and a former Vancouver city councillor. “And you may not be able to put that into a plan.”
Also, an older stock of rental housing gives young, creative people an affordable place to live. “If you push them too far from places where you’re hoping to generate a creative cluster, it’s neither fair to them nor likely to succeed,” Mr. Price says.
I think that's enough for today. As one member of city government said to me, you can always repair buildings. Shame he wasn't listened to.