Vis­ual arts build­ing to be razed for sub­way

Equinox Gallery owner doesn’t be­lieve other op­tions were se­ri­ously con­sid­ered

Vancouver Sun - - CITY - KEVIN GRIF­FIN kev­in­grif­fin@post­media.com

The pro­vin­cial govern­ment is go­ing ahead with plans to de­mol­ish an in­dus­trial build­ing hous­ing two of Van­cou­ver’s top art gal­leries to build the Broad­way Sub­way.

Equinox Gallery and Monte Clark Gallery have un­til 2020 to move out of 525 Great North­ern Way, lo­cated di­rectly to the north and be­hind the new Emily Carr Uni­ver­sity of Art + De­sign.

The Van­cou­ver Sun re­ceived an emailed state­ment from the Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion and In­fra­struc­ture say­ing that raz­ing the build­ing has been iden­ti­fied for “ap­prox­i­mately 10 years, prior to the gal­leries leas­ing ” their spa­ces from the Great North­ern Way Trust in 2011.

“There is not a fea­si­ble al­ter­na­tive align­ment at this lo­ca­tion be­cause of the ad­ja­cent ac­tive rail right-of-way and the new Emily Carr Uni­ver­sity build­ing to the south,” the min­istry said in a state­ment this week.

Andy Sylvester, owner of Equinox Gallery, said he be­lieves it’s non­sense that the City of Van­cou­ver, Tran­sLink or the pro­vin­cial govern­ment ever se­ri­ously con­sid­ered an al­ter­nate align­ment.

He said he thinks the sub­way ex­ten­sion is part of a real es­tate play that doesn’t take into ac­count the build­ing ’s re­la­tion­ship to the city’s vis­ual arts com­mu­nity or to Emily Carr Uni­ver­sity.

“My in­stinct is that peo­ple are go­ing to wish that they had left a build­ing like this in place, and many other build­ings like it as time goes on,” Sylvester said.

“I think peo­ple will look back at this time and say: ‘What the hell hap­pened?’”

Emily Carr Uni­ver­sity ’s pre­vi­ous pres­i­dent, Ron Bur­nett, sug­gested 525 could be saved if the sub­way ex­ten­sion started its en­try un­der­ground fur­ther east in a va­cant lot used for park­ing by the Mas­ters in Dig­i­tal Me­dia build­ing. The min­istry state­ment did not ad­dress that sug­ges­tion.

The min­istry also said the sub­way “project team has sup­ported dis­cus­sions with the City of Van­cou­ver and Great North­ern Way Trust to help iden­tify pos­si­ble so­lu­tions for re­lo­cat­ing the gal­leries.”

Sylvester said he’s not aware of any so­lu­tions for re­lo­cat­ing the gal­leries. “I have no idea what they’re talk­ing about,” he said. “That hasn’t hap­pened.”

Monte Clark, owner of the name­sake Gallery, said the state­ment from the min­istry shows that they un­der­stand the cost of what they’re do­ing, but not the value of what has co­a­lesced around the uni­ver­sity. “It just seems that they keep miss­ing the point about what it is they’re get­ting rid of,” he said.

De­mol­ish­ing 525 Great North­ern Way threat­ens a key part of the vis­ual arts hub that in­cludes all the art events at the uni­ver­sity and its Libby Lesh­gold Gallery, along with sev­eral nearby gal­leries such as Ma­caulay & Co Fine Art, grunt gallery and Gallery Jones. For open­ings at the gal­leries, sev- eral hun­dred peo­ple can show up to see new work by artists such as Gor­don Smith, Fred Her­zog, Karin Bubas and Gra­ham Gill­more.

Clark said he and Sylvester knew de­mo­li­tion was a pos­si­bil­ity, not that it was a cer­tainty, as the min­istry state­ment says.

“We did not know for sure — that’s not true,” he said.

The build­ing, mea­sur­ing 18,700 square feet, is one of the last ex­am­ples of False Creek’s in­dus­trial past. Part of a larger Fin­ning In­ter­na­tional com­plex, it was built in 1964 for weld­ing and paint­ing equip­ment and en­gines for in­dus­trial cus­tomers.

Con­struc­tion of the Broad­way Sub­way is planned to start by 2020 and fin­ish in 2025. It will cost $2.83 bil­lion to ex­tend the Mil­len­nium Line from VCC-Clark to Ar­bu­tus.

FRAN­CIS GE­OR­GIAN

The build­ing at 525 Great North­ern Way will be de­mol­ished to make way for a sub­way.

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