Gregor Robertson and Hedy Fry speak out against transferring Granville Island to port ownership

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Granville Island / Shutterstock

Following media reports that the federal government is about to transfer the management and operations of Granville Island to Port Metro Vancouver, two local politicians are voicing their concerns and speaking out against the deal.

Earlier today, Vancouver Centre MP Hedy Fry and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson issued statements indicating their opposition to the possibility of a Port Metro Vancouver operated Granville Island.

Granville Island is one of Vancouver’s most popular tourist attractions and a hub for arts and cultural activities ever since it was revitalized by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation in the 1970s and 1980s. The deal would result in the transfer of ownership from one federal crown corporation to another.

Up until the 1972, the island was used primarily for industrial uses, including a lingering concrete plant that still exists and is fully operational today.

A formal announcement has not been made by the federal government nor the port authority. There is also no knowledge of what Port Metro Vancouver’s long-term plans for Granville Island might entail, although the port authority has the financial power and leadership required to revitalize the island – especially with the 2016 departure of Emily Carr University + Design, one of Granville Island’s largest tenants.

Port Metro Vancouver is also the owner and operator of Canada Place, one of Vancouver’s most renowned landmarks and a venue for major public events such as this week’s Canada Day Vancouver festivities.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson

“Granville Island is one of Vancouver’s most treasured places, and one of the top two tourist destinations anywhere in Canada. It is a national landmark in the core of our city, and a vibrant hub for tourism, world-renowned arts and culture, local food, and small business. Local decision-making and operations are crucial to Granville Island’s revitalization and continued success.

“The City of Vancouver is strongly opposed to Granville Island being controlled by Port Metro Vancouver, and we made our position clear to the Port and the Government of Canada in discussions and correspondence over many months. As Mayor, I have worked to support a transfer or lease to the City, or the creation of an independent local authority with a mandate that is specific to Granville Island’s unique character.

“Port Metro Vancouver will always be an important part of our region’s trade economy, but Granville Island’s success is as a cherished centre for local food, the creative sector, and tourism that highlights the best Vancouver has to offer. The future of Granville Island should be built on that foundation.”

– Mayor Gregor Robertson

Vancouver Centre MP Hedy Fry

“As the Member of Parliament for Vancouver’s Granville Island, it is disturbing that the Conservative government continues to make decisions in secrecy regarding important regional institutions without consultations or input from MPs or their constituents. While it would be inappropriate to comment on rumours surrounding transfer of responsibility of Granville Island from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), it is important to note that the government’s vision for CMHC’s mandate has strayed from the original concept of that Crown Corporation, which was to spur middle-income housing developments, co-operatives and affordable mortgages. It seems they are determined to make it a major profit-making enterprise.

“Granville Island was redeveloped in 1970 under former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Minister for CMHC the Hon. Ron Basford. The Liberal Party of Canada’s vision of Granville Island as a local hub of arts, culture, foods and artisans has not changed and we will protect the cultural and social integrity of Granville Island. Since the Conservative government took office, they allowed the infrastructure and maintenance of Granville Island to erode and deteriorate.

“I am meeting with local businesses and community leaders in Granville Island to hear from them directly about their concerns regarding the impact of transferring control of Granville Island from CMHC and how that would affect its future viability and vision. I will oppose any blatant major commercialization and privatization of the management of Granville Island.”

– MP Hedy Fry

Featured Image: Granville Island via Shutterstock

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