The Issue

TransLink has indicated that 525 Great Northern Way will be demolished to make way for the Millenium Line Broadway extension of the SkyTrain. Plans to use the “cut and cover” method, similar to what was undertaken on Cambie Street for the Canada Line, could see 525 destroyed as early as 2019.

We believe there is a way to save this distinctive building, which is an icon of the industrial neighbourhood that once existed here.

The City’s heritage policy prevents the “demolition or unsympathetic alteration” of a heritage building. 525 meets this criteria. Although the old Finning paint shop is not a designated heritage building, it is more than 50 years old and with its masonry shell, lofty ceilings, and weathered, original-concrete floors, it is a high-quality architectural example of Vancouver’s industrial past.

This conversion of old industrial buildings into art galleries, which in turn stimulate the growth and sustainability of cultural precincts, may be new to Vancouver. However, preserving and reinvigorating notable buildings such as 525 is a proven way to strengthen cultural neighbourhoods while at the same time preserving historical architecture. it is a concept that has succeeded in Beijing, Shanghai, Denver, Zurich, and many other urban centres. But Vancouver has been razing these unique buildings in order to build towers, in effect pushing various cultural, industrial and commercial ventures that thrive in old, unique and in-between spaces towards the city’s margins.

525, which currently houses the Equinox and Monte Clark galleries, has drawn thousands of people to this emerging cultural precinct. It has become a cornerstone of Vancouver’s visual arts community and a major addition to the new Emily Carr Campus. We want to work with TransLink and the City of Vancouver to preserve this rare building as part of our historical record and maintain its significant contribution to to Vancouver’s visual arts scene.

The City of Vancouver says in its False Creek Flats planning materials that:

“The health of Vancouver’s arts and cultural sector reliers heavily on the Flats. By protecting affordable industrial spaces, Vancouver can hep sustain this critical mass that facilitate news ideas and experimentation, fosters creative exchange between the arts and other sectors, and helps animate a vibrant local economy.”

We are imploring TransLink and the City of Vancouver to protect 525, a piece of our history and cultural scene that can never be replaced.