CMHC president and CEO Evan Siddall takes issue with Alma Lee's comments about management of Granville Island

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      The president and CEO of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Evan Siddal, has written the following letter. It came in response to an open letter by Alma Lee, founder of the Vancouver Writers Fest, about the management of Granville Island.

      Georgia Straight:

      I am responding to the letter published February 27, 2019 entitled: “Vancouver Writers Fest founder Alma Lee raises grave concerns over future of Granville Island”. Ms. Lee misrepresents CMHC’s management of Granville Island, as well as the formation of a new Granville Island Council.

      Over the past 40 years, the commercial crafts and performing arts communities have thrived thanks in part to the security of tenure granted them by CMHC. The island houses 50 artists and artisan studios, who receive discounted rental rates of $6.50 to $18.00 per square foot.

      As stewards of Granville Island, we have tried to honour the history and hopes of the local community for the island as a special urban space for creativity. Having made continuous capital investments, CMHC also conceived of and funded the Granville Island 2040: Bridging Past and Future report, which involved extensive local and tenant consultations. We also co-sponsored an Implementation Committee with the city.

      The report envisions substantial capital investments beyond our limited financial authorities. We welcome any ideas to finance the ambitious plan. Meanwhile, we are making governance changes to return Granville Island to Vancouverites who use and cherish it. A five-person nomination committee for a new Granville Island Council has been struck consisting of a majority of independent Vancouverites.

      CMHC is devoted to returning as much authority as we can to Granville Island via the Council. We look forward to a renewed and thriving island community that is true to its unique and noble roots.  

      Evan Siddall

      President & CEO

      Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation