With the future Broadway Skytrain station being constructed at Main Street and Broadway, Mount Pleasant community members, including business owners, have been trying to get clarity from the City on change coming to this area for several years. Developers had been buying up buildings, suggesting the possibility of land assemblage of existing small individual lots. These are currently home to small, unique, independent businesses, artist studios and rental apartments with more affordable rents because they are in older buildings- something that contributes to the identity of Mount Pleasant.
In its Broadway Plan Emerging Directions document for Mount Pleasant, the City references the 2010 Mount Pleasant Community Plan’s intent to retain the existing scale and character of this small portion of Mount Pleasant from 7th to 11th Ave. The City of Vancouver’s 2010 Mount Pleasant Community Plan was co-created by the City of Vancouver and the community through many volunteer hours. Additionally, the Plan named the area the “Heritage Heart” and noted it as important for being a vibrant shopping, cultural and gathering spot both to the neighbourhood and city-wide.
Through the community work of Mount Pleasant Heritage Group, they have requested for several years formal recognition of this portion of the area named the “Heritage Heart” and a management plan be created for it.
Main Street Village has a cherished and distinctive character, and is regarded by many as the heart of Mount Pleasant. Contributing elements include the heritage buildings, a “human scale”, small and interesting storefronts, strong presence of arts and culture, and the unique triangle block formed by Main/Kingsway/Broadway at the summit of “hilltown”. The iconic seven storey Lee Building is a prominent heritage building at the northwest corner of Main and Broadway. The area’s many local and independent businesses, including cafes and restaurants contribute to a vibrant public life and interesting walking experience during the day and at night.
Summary from “Main Street Village- Tomorrow” of the Heritage Heart area in City of Vancouver’s Broadway Plan Emerging Directions Mount Pleasant document
- Changing and evolving nature of Mount Pleasant is cherished as living heritage
- History of Indigenous peoples and immigrants is an important aspect of Mount Pleasant’s heritage.
- The Broadway Plan area has a diversity of heritage resources, including tangible and intangible heritage. The plan will seek to build on and implement the goals and directions of the Vancouver Heritage Program for the Broadway neighbourhoods.
- Explore opportunities to retain and support cultural and intangible heritage, informed by the Social/Cultural Integrated Impact Assessment.
Points from the Heritage Section of the City of Vancouver’s Broadway Plan Emerging Directions Area Wide Policies Document
In March of 2020, City Council approved an updated version of the Vancouver Heritage Program. One of the six drivers of change to the existing heritage program is an approach called Historic Urban Landscape (HUL). Already in use in Chinatown, it is an approach toward broadening and moving heritage to be about people and their connections to place.
Based on the emerging directions and the City’s new heritage program, a management plan for the “Heritage Heart” as a “Historic Urban Landscape” would be a logical step to take.
The plan would be holistic and focus on our relationships to the area. How can the physical environment here express the various histories of the area both before and after the arrival of settlers? How can the existing affordability for arts and cultural spaces as well as renters be protected? How can the businesses that make up the quirky commercial character be supported? How about the ones that serve the demographics of the area and provide affordable goods and services? What about our relationship with older buildings that generate a layered, historic sense of place?
In short, the HUL-approached management plan would:
1. Identify in detail what is important to protect. For example: affordable rents for small businesses, the soundscape, older buildings for their historic aesthetic and/or use, and ways the landscape can reflect and/or tell the stories of Indigenous peoples, immigrants and the working class
2. Assess how vulnerable the important aspects of the Heritage Heart are
3. Integrate that information into the Broadway Plan for Mount Pleasant and/or the Vancouver Plan to inform how development should or should not be approached
4. And importantly, create actions and tools that protect and promote what has been identified as important.
To read more about the Heart of Mount Pleasant, please go to our 2019 Top10 Watch List.
Photo by Ben Geisberg
We acknowledge the financial assistance of the Province of British Columbia