Monday, March 6, 2017

Vacant city

Bars on the gate, the doors and the windows gives the impression that this west-side home just might be empty. Or whoever lives there is very security-conscious.

"No trespassing" signs and warnings about video surveillance pop up in many homes in the Kerrisdale and Arbutus Ridge area. It doesn't make for a friendly-feeling neighourhood.

Two big new houses replaced a modest one and a pleasant garden on a corner lot in Dunbar.

This is the kind of new house common in the Dunbar and Kerrisdale areas. So often, there's no sign anyone lives there.

When city council increased the allowable square footage of houses in 2009 by 17 per cent, the disparity between the old houses and the new ones became dramatically apparent.
This is what some of the older big houses looked like. The city has launched a character home zoning review to propose ways of saving some of the pre-1940s houses from demolition. 

One of the picturesque smaller old houses that wouldn't likely survive if it was sold. Places like this (and my own house) are known in Vancouver as "bulldozer bait."

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson confirmed something last week that I've been suspecting for awhile: The population has actually fallen in some of my usual walking areas. Citing the latest census, he said the population in Kerrisdale fell by 800 between 2011 and 2016, in Arbutus Ridge by 700; and in Dunbar by 300.

Probably not coincidentally, these are areas where whole blocks of older houses have been torn down and replaced by huge new ones. In many such blocks, there is eerie silence, barred doors, permanently closed blinds, "no trespassing" signs, and warnings that the property is under video surveillance.

The mayor was using the falling population to make the point that densification is needed everywhere in the city, including single-family neighbourhoods like mine. In the Globe and Mail story, he blamed NIMBYs (the not-in-my-backyard crowd) for fighting development that would presumably have filled these blocks with happy families.

No mention that his council in 2009 increased allowable home sizes by 17 per cent, or that just after that, home demolitions soared an average 80 per cent a year (between 2009 and 2015). At a time when the homeless population keeps rising and young people making good salaries can't afford to buy a house here, who is really to blame for these silent blocks?

1 comment:

  1. I guess these will become known as "Kerrisdale Specials". All the new ones look uniformity ugly to me and so inappropriate for the small lots. Perhaps the city should have a design contest to come up with a better solution than these monstrosities. I think it's too much to hope for that the square footage allowed will be downscaled.