In today’s Leader-Post, City Hall columnist Joe Couture writes about resistance to the Cathedral neighbourhood’s proposed Safeway expansion:
It’s the same mentality that leads some neighbours in newer suburbs to even oppose more single-family houses going up because they’ve become used to having a field for a backyard. And it’s really the same basis for people complaining that roads are deteriorating and then becoming upset that the work needed to fix them is too loud or taking too long. We all have our routines and we often don’t like when they’re interrupted, regardless of the big picture. In the case of the Safeway, the community opposition has been outlined using different reasons, though “it won’t fit with the neighbourhood” is still dominant. Others have expressed concerns about the loss of the store’s particular type of architecture and the mural painted on its west side, and about the impact of a bigger store on small businesses. While the opposition might be flavoured with the attitudes of the Cathedral neighbourhood – generally considered to be progressive and concerned with issues like heritage, conservation and protecting small businesses — the reality is that, like in any other area, dislike of change seems to be the real issue here.
He’s right to question community backlash to this new Safeway — I agree with Joe that it’s a project that will, on balance, make that neighbourhood better — but I think he’s a teeny bit too tolerant of the proposal’s ugliness. Ugly developments are bad for the soul, and this is an ugly-looking building.
Having said that, it might be a moot point: This report says Safeway’s taking the design back to the drawing board. Great news! My advice for the architects: just make it as beautiful as you can. And — and I’ll get in trouble for this — as long as the design is amazing, maybe featuring an epic, lively and meaningful mural commissioned to a legitimate artist (i.e. no dancing vegetables!)… I think it’s okay to let the old Marina roof die.
Although it’s okay to keep it, too, or recreate it. I like it too but it’s overrated.
The real issue is there should be no “fortress suburbia” style buildings in Cathedral. Frankly there shouldn’t be any anywhere. (Hey, how about painting the new building a gorgeous Safeway red, with monumental Keith Haring-y murals in large, recessed squares and a complementary piece of public sculpture? Beige must die.)
Good, succinct headline on that column, by the way.