Before Vancouver’s Georgia Viaduct was implemented, there was an active community that existed between Union and Prior Streets in Vancouver. This excellent 16 minute film Secret Vancouver: Return to Hogan’s Alley features stories of Hogan’s Alley, the residents, the stories and the music of a very connected, talented neighbourhood. Narrated by native son and historian John Atkin, the erasing of this community was a direct result of the superiority of motordom.
Just like other North American cities, the downtown areas home to Asian and African Canadian populations were targeted as clearing blight for the technological advantage of the car in the 1950’s. Finding out the community that was is the focus of Chris and Melissa Bruntlett’s article Women in Urbanism: Stephanie Allen on correcting past errors. Stephanie Allen has researched what happened to the small community of Hogan’s Alley as part of her Master’s thesis. In her current work she identifies the importance of public engagement in the redevelopment of this area when the viaducts are removed, and believes that developers and government should give priority to people who “cannot or will not have the same access to housing as other more affluent citizens”. Ms. Allen references the City of Portland’s Right to Return Program which provides incentives for displaced people to return to the areas where they originally formed communities.
Ms. Allen is now looking at creating models of successful mixed-income developments, allowing people with diverse backgrounds to form new communities. She identifies the importance of day-to-day management and equal involvement of market and non-market residents from the time of move-in to ensure a shared sense of responsibility and ownership. It is interesting work, and the rediscovery of the history of Hogan’s Alley illustrates the richness of what was lost-and what could be recreated.