Port Metro's potential Granville Island takeover opposed by mayor, MP

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and MP Hedy Fry voiced their concern Thursday over reports that the city's port authority could soon be taking control of Granville Island, a popular tourist destination and cultural hub.

Gregor Robertson, Hedy Fry speak out against rumoured transfer of Vancouver tourist hub to port authority

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and MP Hedy Fry weigh in on who they don't want taking over 2:26

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and MP Hedy Fry are raising concerns about the potential transfer of control over Granville Island from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which manages the popular tourist destination, to Port Metro Vancouver.

After local media outlets reported Wednesday that responsibility for the site could be transferred from the federal housing agency to the port authority, the mayor and Fry, who represents the riding that includes Granville Island, were quick to issue written statements.

"The City of Vancouver is strongly opposed to Granville Island being controlled by Port Metro Vancouver, and we made our position clear to the Port and the government of Canada in discussions and correspondence over many months," Robertson said.

The mayor called Granville Island "one of Vancouver's most-treasured places and one of the top two tourist destinations anywhere in Canada."

It is too soon to speculate on any outcome.- CMHC

"It is a national landmark in the core of our city and a vibrant hub for tourism, world-renowned arts and culture, local food, and small business," Robertson's statement said.

"Local decision-making and operations are crucial to Granville Island's revitalization and continued success."

Port Metro Vancouver told CBC News that it is up to the CMHC whether Granville Island is transferred to the port authority and that it would defer to it on the matter. 

CMHC would not confirm the rumours of a potential transfer of control.

"It is too soon to speculate on any outcome," a CMHC spokesperson said in an email to CBC News.

"Over the years, as part of its long term planning, CMHC has considered different options for the management of the island. At this time, we cannot discuss details around these options."

Mayor wants landmark to be leased to city

Robertson said he has been working to have the federal property transferred or leased to the City of Vancouver or to have it transferred to another body — but not to Port Metro, which like the CMHC, is also a federal entity.

Granville Island merchants say they were shocked to hear the popular tourist destination may be undergoing a change of management. (CBC)

Fry said "it would be inappropriate to comment on rumours about the transfer of responsibility of Granville Island from CMHC" but did say she would "oppose any blatant major commercialization and privatization of the management of Granville Island."

Fry explained that the site was redeveloped in 1970 as a local hub for artisans, culture and food in a manner that was in line with CMHC's mandate at the time, which was to support middle-income housing developments, co-operatives and affordable mortgages.

Fry said she will be meeting with local businesses and business leaders in the coming days to find out how the end of CMHC's control over Granville Island might affect the continued viability of the site.

With files from the CBC's Dan Burritt


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