FROM: Heather Deal, Chair, Granville Island Council
DATE: December 3, 2020
The first year of the new Granville Island Council has been remarkable, to say the least. In September 2019, we met for the first time, full of enthusiasm, embarking on a journey to help realize the Granville Island 2040 vision. No-one could have predicted that we were on the verge of a global crisis that would put Granville Island’s very existence into question.
Thanks to all of you, the staff of CMHC, and the Government of Canada, we have been able to persevere during this difficult time and look ahead to the road to recovery in 2021.
In keeping with our commitment to maintain communications with you, we’d like to share the experiences of our first year together, and our vision for the future.
Getting to know you
The first half of our term involved considerable effort getting to know the staff and Island community (and each other). We participated in Town Halls, tenant meetings, a wonderful Christmas celebration and many walks around the island to greet the members of the community. We conducted consultations with tenants to hear their concerns as well as their hopes for their businesses and the Island as a whole. We were heartened by the incredible passion and pride so many people have for the island.
Staff and G.M.
After developing a process for working with staff, we created a Council email address, provided public access to Council meeting minutes, and struck a recruitment committee to fill the General Manager position permanently. We are pleased to welcome Tom Lancaster as General Manager and look forward to working with Tom on revitalizing the gem that is Granville Island.
Hearing from others
We also invited subject matter experts to address the Council, to hear perspectives on opportunities and challenges in implementing key actions of the Granville Island 2040 report vision. These guests included:
- Erica Tao, Regional Director General with the Department of Canadian Heritage
- Angela Danyluk, Senior Specialist, City of Vancouver – Sea Level Rise design challenge
- Jay Wollenberg, Wollenberg Munro Consulting
- Gordon Harris, the CEO of SFU Community Trust
- Chuck Brook, independent consultant
- Jacquie Gijssen, Social Purpose Real Estate Collaborative
When the unthinkable happened, our top priority shifted to advocating for relief for the shuttered businesses on the Island. After several months of intense work, we were able to secure $16.7 million in emergency funding from the Government of Canada, enabling CMHC to continue island operations and provide rent relief for tenants through 2020 and into 2021.
We continue to attend many of the staff-led tenant sector calls on the impact of Covid-19 on your businesses. Your tenacity and entrepreneurial spirit is evident in every conversation.
One of the 2040 report recommendations was to create a governance structure that further strengthens local authority, autonomy and decision-making, resulting in the formation of this Council.
We are evaluating all of the recommendations of the report with the goal to implement those that align with the “shared pursuit to make this place remain at the emotional heart of Vancouverites for many generations to come”. Rest assured that this work will be done through ongoing communication with the island community, while keeping in mind existing island needs.
We’ve learned a lot about Granville in our short time as a Council:
Granville Island is a treasure – its longevity is vital.
There is a shared desire to maintain its unique vibrant culture.
We must work collectively to support growth of the island, while recognizing its uniqueness in the Vancouver area.
The pandemic crisis only fortifies our desire to realize the long-term vision of Granville Island to be the most inspiring public place in the world.
There is significant work to be done to update infrastructure, revitalize the Island and attract diverse businesses. It is clear that we must continue to garner support from CMHC and various levels of government.
Granville Island will only be able to realize its potential if funds are available to do this work.
Our second year will be focused on recovery, but, in keeping with this grand vision.
The Council would like to thank the tenants and staff on Granville Island, with special thanks to:
Sabrina Lakos: for her hard work and perseverance in the face of tremendous stress
Sebastian Lippa: for his incredible patience as we found our feet
Sylvie Bourdon: for being accessible and open
Evan Siddall: for his unwavering support of Granville Island
CMHC/Government of Canada/The Honourable Admed Hussen: for providing emergency relief at a critical time.
The Honourable Dr. Hedy Fry: for her continued support for Granville Island
Chair, Granville Island Council