It’s not just the criminal and chronic housing shortage that makes me crazy, if you haven’t already guessed, it’s the loss of the sense of character in our neighbourhoods.
One of the more demoralizing aspects of the prospect of development in our neighbourhood is the way that older houses are being demolished to make room for new, larger (and usually uglier) ones. Sometimes these larger buildings take the form of multi-family dwellings, but often they are single-family homes, just on a much grander scale.
But whether your current older home ends up charming your street or ending up in a landfill all depends on the neighbourhood you live in. And the age of your home. If your house is the wrong age — or in the wrong area — it could be targeted for demolition and replacement. As this story in the Vancouver Courier explains,
Over in Kitsilano, the zoning laws are different. There, if you want to tear down a house built before 1940, you can build a new home only if it’s smaller in size. In exchange for the restriction, you’re allowed to create suites and infill housing.
That sounds very nice. Secondary suites and laneway homes increase the housing stock and — this is where I leap in — don’t change the character of the neighbourhood. And the cut-off date of 1940 is too early, in my opinion. Lots of east-side developments were put in after the war. The entire area between Rupert St. and Boundary Road south of Grandview to 22nd was built for the returning soldiers and their families (hint to the heritage, Anzio, Normandy, and Dieppe Drives). At one time you could see street after street of small bungalows.
These houses are the perfect size for today’s smaller families! With a full basement (also handy to hold a secondary suite for empty-nesters. And they respond well to renovation.
But that area is now chock-a-block with 3 storey New Vancouver Specials, with the occasional older bungalow sitting like a wren in a cuckoos nest.
Fellow boomers and millennials know that’s OUR heritage that is being thrown away when these homes are destroyed.
But what can we do?
Luckily, we can go directly to Stop the Demolitions and fill out a handy-dandy form that will get our message directly to the politicians.
Go ahead, do it! I’ll wait here.
Now, didn’t that make you feel better? Also attend any town halls on the subject. Let your voice be heard!