The City of Vancouver will look to “culture mapping” in efforts to recognize the city’s artistic and cultural assets and protect them from redevelopment where applicable.
Vision Vancouver Councillor Heather Deal will introduce a motion next week that will “begin a process for recognizing and mapping artistic and cultural assets in the city, including venues and spaces that may be at risk of redevelopment,” according to a news release issued Wednesday.
City staff would work with the recently established Arts and Culture Policy Council and the public to identify these spaces, which would include lesser-known venues rather than just obvious locations like theatres or galleries, Ms. Deal said in an interview. Spaces identified to be at risk could then be protected with heritage designations or bylaw and zoning restrictions.
The motion comes on the heels of the closure of the Waldorf Hotel under Waldorf Productions – a matter that garnered a significant, and perhaps surprising, amount of public interest. Ms. Deal said there is a “really strong response in favour” of the city’s move to take a heritage assessment of the hotel, “but we’re also seeing people saying, ‘Well, that’s not what matters to me.’
“We want to find out what other people think is an important cultural landscape as well, so that we’re not inadvertently missing some key things, or that we’re not making assumptions that don’t actually match up with what people feel around the city,” she said.
While it will be up to city staff to come up with recommendations on how feedback will be collected, Ms. Deal anticipates it will be gathered through a dedicated Web page, social media and public meetings. The locations will then be plotted on a map and made public, ideally serving as a guide to help locals and visitors alike find artistic and cultural venues off the beaten path. Toronto and Mississauga have similar culture maps.
Ms. Deal said she hopes the planning will keep the city “from being surprised.”
NPA councillor George Affleck said the public outcry from the closure of venues such as the Waldorf and the Ridge Theatre is due largely to the city’s confusion over what constitutes a heritage space.
“Heritage, I believe, in Vancouver is not necessarily about brick and mortar; it’s about the meaningfulness of the building to the community,” he said. “The spirit of [the motion] is what I’ve been saying all along, since the Waldorf and the Ridge: Why does this keep happening and how can we stop it?”
Ms. Deal will introduce the motion on Tuesday.