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The Kramer buildings general discussion incl. The Janion | Morley Soda Water Factory


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#61 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 02:17 PM

Could you park your Spyder Hoe at the Janion and tear down both the Janion and the Soda Factory without moving the Hoe's wheels?

#62 aastra

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 02:20 PM

I noticed that the Vibrant Victoria discussion is referenced directly today in the Times-Colonist. However, I dispute that this site is "pro-development." The viewpoints here are pretty balanced and varied on everything and every topic.


I suppose it's easier to label us all as "pro-development" than "pro-a-wide-range-of-opinions-including-many-that-contradict-one-another-unlike-the-major-media-which-only-advocate-opinions-that-are-palatable-to-big-business-and-big-government."

I do have strong opinions and enjoy posting them here and getting them put to the test. I've been wrong plenty of times and I've had my opinion changed on many topics by many of you.


Indeed. I especially like it when somebody posts something that gets me thinking in a new way altogether (that is, different from the way I was thinking and also different from the way the other person seems to be thinking).

#63 gumgum

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 02:51 PM

What Heiman wrote:

The news that the owner has applied for a demolition permit on the Morley's and Janion buildings has ignited a firestorm of comments on the website Vibrant Victoria, a place where more often than not strong pro-development sentiments get aired.
"Clara Beatrice Kramer, I declare war," wrote one person.

In her defense, she didn't say "a website about Victoria developments", she said the people are more a prone to strong development stance, which I think is pretty accurate. I mean, if that weren't true then there wouldn't be things like specific threads about specific developments, etc. I am pro development. In fact I can't understand how people can't be pro development, but there are people like that out there.

That forum member she quoted in the article sure must be a brilliant guy BTW.

#64 Mike K.

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 03:18 PM

I don't think we could have hoped for a better mention.

The juxtaposition of being labeled as pro-development but "declaring war" over demolition of historic buildings captures the true spirit of this website. For we're development conscious, not blinded by development.

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#65 amor de cosmos

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 03:21 PM

Not even for the demolition job? Roark would never compromise with the pinheads running Victoria.


I guess that's true. I was thinking of his style though. I don't think he'd be interested in an old-world-looking restoration.

#66 aastra

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 03:29 PM

I don't know, do seemingly endless criticisms of the Spencer Interchange project, Bear Mountain, Bear Mountain by Quigg, Langford in general, Songhees architecture past and present, and the ground floor of the Wave condo building really constitute strong pro-development sentiments? We seem like a pretty discerning group to me. I've never seen anything get a free pass.

In fact I can't understand how people can't be pro development, but there are people like that out there.


This is my point. The implication seems to be that you're strongly pro-development if you don't get outraged whenever you hear about some new development proposal, regardless of what the development proposal in question might be.

Is it really that polarized? Do you really have strong anti-development sentiments on one side (ardent opposition to building anything anywhere for any reason whatsoever), and every other possible sentiment on the other side (in the strongly pro-development camp)?

#67 Holden West

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 05:46 PM

Apart from a handful of fanatics out on the fringe, I don't think anyone's really anti development in general. Everyone acknowleges the population is increasing and no-one likes 'missing teeth' in the form of derelict buildings and vast barren parking lots.

Anyway, great articles by Heiman in the T/C. I'm sure we'd love a full page one-on-one interview with Trixie but that simply ain't going to happen no matter how long we whine or the editors beg.
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#68 amor de cosmos

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 07:38 PM

I don't know, do seemingly endless criticisms of the Spencer Interchange project, Bear Mountain, Bear Mountain by Quigg, Langford in general, Songhees architecture past and present, and the ground floor of the Wave condo building really constitute strong pro-development sentiments? We seem like a pretty discerning group to me. I've never seen anything get a free pass.

That's what I thought. When I see "pro-development" it sounds like someone who would thoughtlessly say "everyone should build everything everywhere all the time" which would be just as crazy as saying... build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything :P Not many of the so-called "pro-development" people want these Clara Kramer buildings torn down & replaced with highrises, nor do they want Roger's Chocolates to lose its heritage status due to its renovation. That's not pro-development is it?


Is it really that polarized? Do you really have strong anti-development sentiments on one side (ardent opposition to building anything anywhere for any reason whatsoever), and every other possible sentiment on the other side (in the strongly pro-development camp)?

I would say it is if the papers say a building is "reaching for this guy" (their favourite phrase) if it's taller than 6 stories.

#69 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 08:51 PM

If I recall correctly, it was as long ago as the last election that several people (including the guy from the marijuana party -- Lucas?) said that the City of Victoria needs to enact a bylaw like Winnipeg's, where derelict landlords/ owners face stiff penalties and fines, etc., for letting their property sit empty or fall into disrepair.

There was some murmuring at City Hall about how this would be a good thing, but no councilor took it up or effectively pushed for it.

That was easily 2 if not 3 full years ago. I can't help but wonder what things would look like today if such a bylaw had passed in 2006.
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#70 Rob Randall

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 09:07 PM

My predecesors on the Downtown Advisory Committee looked very hard at a derilict buildings bylaw but Victoria is constrained in that the Community Charter limits Victoria's powers to levy certain fines (as I understand it). Vancouver's charter is much more powerful. But there is encouraging news from a recent Union of BC Municpalities meeting that could give us more powers to punish derelict slumlords by using tax penalties.

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#71 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 09:19 PM

^ Do you have any idea why Victoria and Vancouver have such different powers/ authority, Rob? Sounds crazy and should be changed, doesn't it? If it is changed (as per "encouraging news from ...Union of BC Municipalities"), do you have any idea who makes those changes? Are cities dependent on the Province for change? (If so, that's not right, either, imo.)
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#72 Caramia

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 11:45 PM

I know that there have been city councillors pushing for a review of the Community Charter at UBCM meetings. I was at a meeting about a year and a half ago where I believe it was Charlayne Thornton-Joe and Mike Hill were both pressing business leaders to write letters in support of amending the Community Charter to allow for penalties for delinquent landlords. The Janion building was definitely at the forefront of the discussion as that exact question was the topic of the meeting being asked of them... why can't you do anything? My memory is foggy of the process needed but I think it is the UBCM that needs to petition the province since the Community Charter is in fact a provincial Bill (Bill 14) which I understand was introduced by and championed by Gordon Campbell.

The Community Charter is definitely worth at least skimming - here is a link: http://www.qp.gov.bc.../C/03026_00.htm
It governs everything from limiting council's powers of expropriation, bylaws and business regulation to structure of municipal government, elections, committees etc etc etc. For anyone wondering why City Council acts the way it does - familiarity with this document is a must.

Vancouver is governed by the Vancouver Charter which is independent of the Community Charter - which binds the rest of BC. Very annoying. I don't know why they are exempt.

The Janion building is a frustrating example of someone doing something that everyone KNOWS is morally wrong, and damaging to the city, yet technically, not illegal. Mrs Kramer has been an irresponsible steward, and a poor citizen, and has damaged the fabric of downtown by her behaviour, yet in order to penalize her or even stop her we have to change the laws. It is amazing that a grown-up could have such an absent conscience.

#73 Rorschach

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 07:45 AM

I guess that's true. I was thinking of his style though. I don't think he'd be interested in an old-world-looking restoration.


He wanted to be original and often complained that modern architecture copied the look of successful designs without considering function. He didn't see much that was original.

The Janion is pretty much a big brick square warehouse, so it does not seem to be particularly original or innovative. It's old and it's what Victoria looked like in the 1890s. Roark would probably tear it down and dismiss any heritage value because the building was nondescript to begin with. He'd be very upset that the owner let it deteriorate and bring down the beautiful downtown neighborhood. I don't think he'd see the existing building as anything special, but he'd think the building site is one of the very best in Victoria and a one of a kind opportunity to build something truly lasting -- something people 150 years from now would want to preserve as a heritage site.

As to what he'd put there - I wish I had the talent to say it or even imagine it. It seems as though it would have to be something linked to the water and the bridge and the railroad. The surrounding neighborhood is the biggest limitation to developing the site. Whatever is built has to compliment everything else. It's a difficult problem on may fronts, and as someone pointed out, there is no Howard Roark, and there is no Frank Lloyd Wright. Some concrete and glass box seems inevitable and that limitation of the local architecture trends would offend Roark.

We just don't have imaginative leaders or city planners in Victoria. And creative developers willing to take a risk and put up money are squashed by all the layers of bureaucracy and compromise required to build anything.

Sorry this message is getting long, but I'm still thinking a boutique hotel with a modern Phillips Brewing brewpub restaurant on the roof and upper floors would be neat. They could even have a nighttime "wine train" linked to the property where people could ride the train and be served a meal and the local wines and beers on a train ride in a special fancy train car. All the local breweries and wine merchants can participate. With all that parking space and access to the hotel... it might be something.

But I'm no Howard Roark.

#74 G-Man

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 07:48 AM

The Vancouver Charter goes back to the late 1800's and is the only one of its kind in the province. It gives Vancouver powers that other munis in BC which are governed by the Municipal Act do not have.

Vancouver officially became a city on April 6, 1886. Formerly the town of Granville, the fast-growing settlement was incorporated under a private member's bill in the provincial legislature and the Vancouver Corporation Act. In 1953, this act would be renamed the Vancouver Charter.
This incorporation marked an early difference between Vancouver and all other municipalities in the province, which are created and governed under the Municipal Act. As is discussed later on, the Charter is much like the Municipal Act in many ways, but remains a separate statute.

The first municipal election was held on May 3, 1886. It was an at-large vote which elected ten aldermen and the mayor. At that time, there was no voters list, 499 votes were cast. In one of the first by-laws passed by Council, five wards were created, each electing two aldermen for one-year terms of office. The only major structural change in the next few decades came in 1904, when the number of wards was increased to six.



http://www.city.vanc...s/chapter1.html

It would be easier to change the one Vancouver charter than all of the other ones but neither is going to happen. It is a quirk.

#75 Rorschach

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 07:53 AM

Notwithstanding the city charter, I think the city has a few legal remedies in addition to expropriation. The building might be declared a public nuisance because of its danger to surrounding properties and city streets. It will collapse in an earthquake and obviously the owner does not want to bring it up to standards because of the expense. And if they deny a demolition permit the owner will have no choice but to sell it or upgrade it and/or pay damages or be required to post a bond to cover a potential disaster.

They just have to be creative - but we don't have that in our leaders and planners.

Even the adjacent property owners might be able to take legal action for the private nuisance the Janion poses to them.

Something can be done on many fronts. The roadblock is making a decision to do something.

#76 B.Bridge

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 08:15 AM

They just have to be creative - but we don't have that in our leaders and planners.



Actually I think you are incorrect about this, as I've observed certain leaders and planners at city hall finding fresh, creative yet fair and democratic ways to get things done there. I'm not saying everyone that works at city hall is a force of creativity, maybe they are, but how would I know? I am wondering how you could possibly have the knowledge necessary to make such an all-encompassing negative statement.

#77 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 08:56 AM

Thanks for the additional info re. Vancouver / Victoria charter differences, Caramia and G-man.

Lucky Vancouver, eh?
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#78 aastra

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 10:38 AM

I'm not saying everyone that works at city hall is a force of creativity, maybe they are, but how would I know? I am wondering how you could possibly have the knowledge necessary to make such an all-encompassing negative statement.


Can you point out some examples that would serve as evidence of their creativity?

I suppose the vision for the Crystal Garden block would be one. But then again, this vision comes only now, when south downtown is very nearly fully built out. Is that really vision? Or is that just riding on the backs of successful developments that the city only begrudginly allowed to happen in the first place?

What about the lame duck plan for the Coho terminal? How creative is that?

We've recently seen the city throw cold water (preemptively) on potential redevelopment plans for Ogden Point.

Also, we've seen very creative plans for a downtown art gallery and a waterfront performing arts centre both get quashed.

What's the sum total of all of these things? Creative or not?

#79 Rorschach

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 12:35 PM

I've yet to encounter a creative bureaucracy. I judge their creativity based on the lack of innovation or originality. A tree is known by its fruit. Actually this is related to the themes in "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" because the people in the books that society rewarded and acknowledged as creative and original were anything but. They are both difficult reads because the thinking is so alien to most people.

I am interested in examples of creative planning you can point out in Victoria. The efforts are all trying to please everyone end up pleasing no one.

My assertion about creativity was primarily speaking to conceptualizing legal strategy in compelling people like Ms. Kramer to do the right thing and to defend what I believe is a shakedown by her lawyers.

One city spokesperson dismissed out of hand the idea of expropriation saying it doesn't apply to heritage preservation. He's not thinking creatively and can't conceptualize how to articulate that development and/or restoration of the derelict buildings would benefit the public and be a "public use."

Kramer has lawyers who have carefully considered the situation. The city does not even comprehend that the situation is a legal problem. They can't seem to imagine how to apply the existing laws to deal with Kramer and her lawyers and they are about to be spanked for this lack of vision. It's going to cost the taxpayers big time unless someone creative there simply realizes the nature of the problem. I don't think they do. Kramer's lawyers are going to steer the ship. I say the city can decide what course to take. But before they can set course, they have to know where they want to go. I don't see any evidence of the city knowing where they want to go and they appear to be on defence. So, I say they should go on offense as described in earlier messages.

If the Kramer's want to demolish the buildings, I'd want to see a complete business and financial plan and a construction plan and a computer model of what the new building will look like. Does Kramer really want to develop or is this some kind of money making block busting scheme? I'd use the prospect of expropriation or heritage designation or nuisance to force the issue and hit the ball back into Kramer's side of the net.

#80 gumgum

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Posted 17 March 2008 - 01:07 PM

I don't think there's a question in anybody's mind that Kramer's lawyer was lying when he said that Kramer had the intention of developing something on the site. If that were true she'd be smart enough to provide elaborate details now about what she intended to do once the site would be cleared.
I can't help thinking that with this woman resisting these proposals from all these developers for all these years - to then someday decide to tear them down -without thinking she must be a complete lunatic. Apart from the fact that these actions are completely immoral and irresponsible, they really make no sense at all.

I don't think this is block busting either. She'd have made a truck load more money had she done something with these buildings years ago. She'd make an even bigger truck load today.

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