Leonard Ruppenthal

As President of the South Granville Business Improvement Area I am so immersed in its activities that I sometimes lose perspective. This is a privilege few share. We are an advocate for you and your neighbourhood, your voice with the city and the province, and conduit to services that are more efficiently provided across the entire area. Needless to say, there is a lot happening. While I do my best to keep you up to date once a year, and you can go to the SGBIA website to keep abreast of issues that matter to you at any time, there is no way to condense a year of activities, let alone several years of slowly nudging along longer-term projects in a concise and coherent manner.

Our longer-term projects are particularly relevant today, as we focus on continuing to represent your interests for another five years, and our most productive work has been in areas that are not immediately evident. This includes working with the planning department of the City of Vancouver and earning a seat at the table during discussions that concern South Granville; drafting design guidelines that allow the City and developers to determine whether they will receive our support for their projects (and they know we will fight); setting the stage to achieve key objectives by participating in the Granville Walkway process; and through our support and involvement in the Fair Tax Coalition helping institute a tax shift resulting in substantial savings to our members. We are currently participating in retail studies and installing pedestrian counters to assist in better understanding the dynamics of our evolving area, and are ensuring your voices are heard as the City proceeds with it Broadway master plan and Skytrain extension.

SGBIA Board President Leonard Ruppenthal and Executive Director Sharon Townsend

SGBIA Board President Leonard Ruppenthal and Executive Director Sharon Townsend

While we hope we look like a well-oiled machine from the outside, inside there is constant tuning and modification. The last five years have definitely been one of evolution both within the neighborhood and the organization itself. What is most evident on the street are our programs, many of which people believe have been in place for a lot longer than they have. We went through an entire rebranding, encouraged murals, acquired some of the best Christmas decorations in Vancouver, and changed our street concierges all within the last five years. We also hired a new Marketing Director, Kathy Mak, (or more appropriately created the position of Marketing Director) and continued to improve our online and social media profiles. Most of this was to ensure that we adapted to the inevitable changes and put priority towards the issues that were most important to you while walking the budgetary tightrope. Kathy has added a new perspective to the team, and I am looking forward to seeing the results of her marketing efforts.

Tenants who have chosen South Granville, many as their first and sometimes only Vancouver location, have told me we provide superior access to a choice demographic in an attractive location. You have all contributed by ensuring that South Granville is seen as the place where “Vancouver comes to taste the best, find their style, live well and indulge themselves” and where customers can find quality products and receive exceptional service. It does not hurt that we are on a highly visible street at the edge of Vancouver’s premier residential district, but we cannot take that for granted.

In addition to the residents that live nearby, we are a shopping destination for an above average income group within the broader Greater Vancouver area, and an entertainment destination for all incomes.

An afternoon or night at the Stanley often includes either a bit of shopping or a meal, and South Granville is a very attractive place for people to spend their discretionary income.

We are no longer a “neighborhood shopping street”, we are the preferred location for global fashion brands, international furniture stores, some of the region’s most highly acclaimed restaurants, and Vancouver’s best privately owned boutiques and services.

Looking at the past and present is relatively easy, but we must also continually prepare for the future and we think we are heading in the right direction. There are challenges ahead, some of which we do not yet recognize, but that is all part of a rate of change that seems to accelerate every year. We are ably guided by our Executive Director, Sharon Townsend, who I would like to thank for over 19 years of service. She definitely makes my job easier and as she prepares for her next chapter, one that is not appropriate to call retirement… we all owe her a great deal of gratitude for guiding this neighborhood into one of the most admired in Vancouver. She will remain at the helm until our new term begins, and it will be exciting to work with someone who is fresh to the neighborhood and role. While it would be foolhardy to not expect some transitional issues, this is a well planned turnover with adequate time to ensure we hire the best candidate and ensure they are ready.

We expect early priorities will be to deal with the effects of property assembly and redevelopment, and the reasons why this is occurring. In most of South Granville there is an opportunity to assemble smaller buildings that are not built to maximum allowed density and redevelop them into larger and taller mixed-use buildings.

How these projects will affect neighborhood character as they displace the smaller tenants is yet to be seen. As examples look at 2301 Granville (7th and Granville), where an 8 storey building is under development covering more than half of the block, or 1510 West 6th (6th and Granville) where a 5 storey building has been built on a 30 ft. wide lot.

There are multiple causes ranging from a densifying city to capitalizing on the proposed Broadway Skytrain, Granville Bridge Walkway, and Arbutus Greenway. Change is inevitable, it is how we deal with it that makes the difference.

I cannot imagine what South Granville would be like without the BIA, its programs and initiatives. I am proud to be associated with the SGBIA and to have the opportunity to be involved in the continued improvement of the area. I am also honoured to have the support of a very diverse and talented board of directors, all of whom I would like to thank for their time, dedication, support, and contributions.

Our mandate is “to help make South Granville the destination of choice for Metro Vancouver residents for shopping, dining, entertainment, and other services; and to act as a catalyst for vibrancy and prosperity in the area through advocacy, marketing, events, improvements and co-operative initiatives”. The Annual General Meeting on September 25 is your opportunity to hear about our activities, socialize with your neighbors, meet your board, and ask a few questions. We hope to see you there.

Finally, I wish every one of you a prosperous year, for I believe that is the main reason you have chosen to locate in South Granville.


Leonard Ruppenthal, President – Blenheim Realty
Lynda Barr, Vice President – Dianes Lingerie
Karen Holshoe, Treasurer – Gammon International
Patricia Thiel, Secretary – Mikes Cheesecake Ltd.
Brian Meakin, Past President – Turner Meakin Management Company Ltd.
Peter Cathie – White Arts Club Theatre Company
Zenija Esmits – Boboli

Christian Hofmann – Prospera Credit Union
Peter McGee – The Stable House Bistro
Emily McLean – Goodge Place

Sharon Townsend, Executive Director

South Granville