The housing stock in the Dunbar area of Vancouver has undergone significant change in the past five years. Originally a working class neighbourhood with many quite modest homes surrounded by lovely gardens, it is now a neighbourhood that 99% of the people working in Vancouver cannot afford because the replacement homes are built to the maximum footprint and cost millions. Greenspace has been reduced. Included on this website are photos of many (not all) of the disappeared houses.
View Teardowns in the Dunbar area of Vancouver, BC in a larger map

Demolitions West of the Dunbar Community Centre

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Raised, Not Razed

I spotted this house at the corner of 26th Avenue and Dunkirk in mid December. I was pleased to see that this old character house was being raised instead of being demolished.

Walking by on February 21, I noticed that the second storey had vanished. A workman told me that a new second storey was being configured. Perhaps in a few months, I will post a photo to show what it is like.

I doubt that this sun room to the north was original to the house, but it was an inspired addition, and is going to stay.
In December, neighbours were alarmed that this well cared for character house on 33rd Avenue was going to be demolished.

It soon became evident that the house would be raised. The builders are taking pains to save the little doorway on the side. Have you ever seen a new "character" house built with one of these charming doorways?

As you can see from both of these projects, raising a house is very disruptive to the garden, old materials have to be discarded, and new materials are needed. However, there are numerous advantages, some of them being "green": the house gains a livable basement, the neighbourhood retains its character, the footprint of the house can remain the same, neighbours lose only marginally in terms of their view and sunlight, and a lot less ends up in the landfill. A neighbour wrote an email to me saying: "My friend is in the 'Lift up a existing house business' and the costs are very reasonable, comparing it to building new."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Dusty Departure

Even though the plastic shingles on this house obscure its original character, one can still see that it was one of the early houses built close to Dunbar, perhaps in the early 1920's, on a 50 foot wide lot. Very well cared for, it was recently sold. I don't usually create a blog until there is some semblance of what the new construction is like, but there are issues around the demolition, brought to my attention by a long-term Dunbar resident, Terry Slack.

Here is Terry's February 8 email to the Dunbar Residents' Association's list:

A wonderful old home next to my Mom's house, that for many years had extensive renovations, new landscaping and a brand new two car garage all on 28th Ave close to Dunbar! Yes today all was leveled and placed in two house demolition dumpsters today! The new exterior Plastic Cladding with insulation under each piece "non salvable ? ? ? " for it had no plastic Recycling number stamped on the pieces so these massive amounts of plastic and good wood were smashed and sent to landfill to pollute our children's future! The Fiber Glass Insulation from the walls etc. was new, out to land fill it all went in a big hurry! The dust coated my mother's yard, porches and sidewalks, including what is left of the Mom's "Chaver Chomped Lawns"! She is 91 next week and cried today, for really no body cares that she is a senior and that she has been in her house for over 60 years, nobody offered to clean up the demolition mess that has affected her, for they do not have to. She is looking at her collection of Garden seeds and wondering if growing a food garden, and "she has done that for all the years she has been on 28th Ave" and gave the surplus garden food to neighbours. Today she is wondering, is really worth it this year to have a garden ? Terry

Aside from cropping, I did not do any processing to these last three photos, taken the morning of February 9. As you can see, the uncontrolled dust even obscured the orange Hitachi at the back lane.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Highbury and West 23rd

The Dunbar Residents' Association's website has a photo gallery of ORIGINAL DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE. The above picture, taken by Tom Grant in 2004, is of a house located on the corner of 23rd and Highbury. It sits in the middle of a wide lot, 82x122 feet. Vancouver City Archive records indicate that water service was applied for in 1921. But the house may be older than that because it is a different style than other old ones on the block.

I noticed the house a few years ago because it has an archway of grape vines over the front sidewalk leading to the house, and also because of the many flowering plants in the extensive garden, both inside and outside the fence.
The for sale sign in July, the red marks on the sidewalk, and the derelict look of the place portend some trouble for this garden spot.

In late September, there was a woman prowling around the east side of the garden, perhaps rescuing plants, but I respected her privacy and did not take a photo of her.

A few fall crocuses planted years ago have naturalized, now flowering for the last time.

In December and January, a new house was constructed.

But, there's more. Two houses will reside on this double lot, plus two 3-car garages. Very little green space (or even permeable space) remains.

View of the rear of the houses on February 7, with the foundations for the garages: