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South Granville needs a drinking water fountain!

June 11, 2015
Visualization of how a drinking water fountain might look in front of the Fire Hall Library.

Artist’s impression of a drinking water fountain in front of the Fire Hall Library, off South Granville.

Tuesday I started a conversation with a South Granville security guard on the subject of providing water to potentially thirsty and/or heat-stroking people in and around the five or six blocks of prime shopping that is the South Granville strip.

The guard started it; volunteering that panhandlers and street people — and any people for that matter — can have difficulty getting a free drink of water on South Granville. His problem, he explained, was that if he encountered anyone in heat distress, he would want to help them but he couldn’t very well afford to buy them all bottled water.

This conversation neatly echoed some of the concerns I expressed in a recent blog post about the potential difficulty of finding water on a hot day in the back alleys of the Fairview neighbourhood.

Wednesday the guard picked up again where we left off. He wondering aloud if some way could be found to provide a supply of free cups to the McDonald’s restaurant in the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue (it is now the policy  at this McDonald’s to give water for free but to charge a quarter for the paper  cup).

I looked at the guard for a moment and asked the obvious question:

“Why isn’t there a water fountain somewhere along South Granville Street?

It’s such an obvious question– such an obvious solution — that it has popped into my head several times over the last 10 years but each time I’ve done nothing about it, let it drop and then forgotten about it. But not this time; because I have a blog now.

Filling a hole in the city’s water fountain coverage

The South Granville shopping strip in red with two good spots for a water fountain.

The South Granville shopping strip in red with two good spots for a water fountain.

The need for a water fountain on (or just off) South Granville is as obvious to me as the huge blank hole that is the center of Fairview on the City of Vancouver’s map of drinking water fountains, linked off of the city’s drinking water fountain page.

I understand that there is a water fountain somewhere on the grounds of the Vancouver Mental Health Society building, located at 7th Avenue and Fir Street. However, I think this activity centre-slash-social housing building is too far off the beaten track and that any water fountain it has may be there specifically for clients of the building.

Homeless people who are not clients of the mental health system are often not even allowed inside — certainly we’re not allowed to use the services. I know this because after it was built several of us area street people were turned away when we variously asked to use the shower and laundry facilities.

I would like to see a drinking water fountain in a central location on or near South Granville Street. I have two choices for a location:

The southwest corner of South Granville Street and West Broadway Avenue, in front of the Chapters bookstore. This is a high-traffic corner for both shoppers and transit commuters, not to mention panhandlers.

My preferred spot for a drinking water fountain would be one block farther south, on the north side of the 1400 block of 10th Avenue, in front of the Fire Hall Public Library. This location is just off of and in sight of South Granville Street and it’s a place where lots of children and parents congregate. It offers a large open area for a water fountain and is also the location of the neighbourhood Fire Hall. There’s even a water drainage already inset into the lawn in front of the library!

I’m imagining one of the new three-tier jobs with the fountain spigot on the top, a mid-height spigot for children and a third spigot closer to ground level for filling dog dishes.

I’ll just have to keep raising the issue and pestering people about it until I find out why it’s impossible or until the South Granville area at the centre of the Fairview neighbourhood finally gets a drinking water fountain. Click the images to enlarge them.

2 Comments
  1. Slowcrow permalink

    Well thought out, but I’d still like to see a designated houseless-person splash park, when there’s weather like this…… 🙂

    • For a few years a parkade on the southwest corner of 7th Avenue and Hemlock Street ran its overhead sprinklers overnight to deter rough sleepers. It would be nice to still have that to ride through on a really sultry night.

      Outdoor public swimming used to kind of serve a similar purpose. I remember in the 1980s, climbing the fence at night and swimming in the public pool at Ontario St. and 16th Ave. I wasn’t homeless then, just young, poor and adventurous. Some of the others who I remember swimming there early in the morning were homeless — perhaps one reason why that pool is long gone now. Are there any outdoor neighbourhood pools left in Vancouver?

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