|Monday's handful of real-estate brochures.|
|Recent book chronicles loss of old Vancouver homes and gardens.|
|Witch hazel at recently sold property will likely be removed.|
It's a regular reminder of something we would rather forget -- that our little 1930s-era cottage and our once blue-collar neighbourhood are part of a real-estate maelstrom that has gained hurricane force over the last decade. The international flood of money that has sent real estate prices skyrocketing in London and Hong Kong has hit Dunbar too.
Sure, this flood means the house at the end of our block -- soon to be bulldozed -- just sold for more than $3 million. Extrapolating, we can assume we'd be multimillionaires too if we sold. But the price of buying an equivalent house means we'd only be ahead if we left the city, which we don't want to do.
And so we are left with the smiling real estate agents and the results of what their trade has meant for our neighbourhood. It's now a place where a simple walk can produce a series of horrible shocks. See that white survey peg on the property across the street? It means the house you've loved forever with its oddball turret and leaded-glass windows is going up for sale. Chances are, it will soon be one of the approximately 1,000 houses demolished in Vancouver every year. That orange fencing on another property down the street means a bulldozer will soon turn its beautiful garden into a gigantic pit. The new for-sale sign at the end of the block means the witch hazel that scents the entire street from December on will eventually be chopped to a stump.
Meanwhile, store vacancies are increasing on the Dunbar shopping strip and the provincial government is pushing for school closures because of low enrolments. Could this have anything to do with all the permanently dark homes that are starting to spot the neighbourhood?
I try to focus on the trees and gardens that still exist, to treasure the beautiful houses that still stand -- but every street I walk is a potential minefield of white stakes and orange fences. People have petitioned, activists have demonstrated; a book called Vanishing Vancouver has graphically illustrated what's happening to the beauties of old Vancouver. So far, no government at any level has responded with any meaningful action.
As for me, no matter how much my house increases in value, nothing is worth the loss of the witch hazel in December.