Granville Island gets new governance model

New council has more influence than the previous advisory trust

Granville Island - rk
Granville Island's Public Market building was created in 1979, when federal and provincial governments converted a 50,000-square-foot building | Rob Kruyt

Say goodbye to the Granville Island Trust. A new Granville Island Council will be responsible for making key budgeting, planning and long-term strategy decisions at the arts-centric property. Its members were announced this morning.

Six members appointed to the Granville Island Council are from Vancouver. They include:

senior marketing and communications professional Andeen Yvonne Pitt;

former Granville Island Trust chair Dale McClanaghan;

•business planner and corporate strategist Gracen Chungath;

•former city councillor Heather Deal;

sustainability and communications professional Johanna Lauyanto; and

•Arts Umbrella CEO Paul Larocque.

A seventh member of the council is Ottawa-based Domenic Caminiti, national key account manager with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), which manages the property. CMHC got to appoint two members to the council and those appointments were Caminiti and Lauyanto.

The City of Vancouver was able to appoint one member to the council and that member was Chungath.

The remaining four members of the council were selected by a nominating committee that included:

•chair Jane Shackell, from Miller Thomson LLP, and a Granville Island Trust representative;

•Gloria Loree, from Destination Canada, and a Granville Island 2040 Implementation Committee representative;

•Sadhu Johnston, manager at the City of Vancouver and a Granville Island 2040 Implementation Committee representative;

•Linda Morris, CMHC board member; and

•Lois McGrath, interim general manager of CMHC-Granville Island.

Officially, however, those four remaining council members were appointed by Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and minister responsible for CMHC.

CMHC-Granville Island’s governance transition to a council has been known for months. The news today is who is on its council.

While the Granville Island Trust’s role was as an advisory body, the new Granville Island Council has greater decision-making powers and influence over the strategic direction of Granville Island.

One of the Council’s first orders of business will be to evaluate and recommend candidates to fill the role of general manager of CMHC-Granville Island.

“We asked, in selecting the members, that care be taken to ensure that they represent the diversity of Vancouver society and possess expertise in areas relevant to Granville Island such as arts and culture, community and government relations, leadership, finance, and property management,” said Duclos in a release.

Lois McGrath, who has been CMHC-Granville Island’s interim general manager since 2017, called creating the council “an important milestone because it gives local residents who understand Granville Island the decision-making authority to help shape its future.”

A few years ago, Granville Island was estimated to be home to 275 businesses that employed more than 2,500 people. Large tenant Emily Carr University of Art + Design has since vacated 190,000 square feet of space, however, and while Arts Umbrella has taken 50,000 square feet of that space, there remains uncertainty about exactly what will happen to some of the rest of the university’s former space.

There is also uncertainty surrounding a novel idea floated in the report Granville Island 2040: Bridging past and Future – building an elevator between Granville Island and the Granville Bridge.

Granville Island, which is really a peninsula underneath Granville Bridge, became an entity in 1972, when a federal order-in-council assigned management of the 14-hectare site to CMHC. Former Vancouver Centre MP Ron Basford was instrumental in its transformation as an arts-centric space with theatres. He has a park named after him that is on the peninsula.

The Granville Island Public Market was created in 1979, when the federal and provincial governments partnered and converted a 50,000-square-foot building.

To read a follow-up story where business owners on Granville Island complain about the new council's composition, click here.