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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

London, England and Vancouver, BC, Canada

In the July 5, 2013 issue of The Guardian Weekly, Patrick Collinson has an article entitled: “Number of £1m homes rises by a third”.  Some cities in the UK promote people to buy derelict homes for £1, and there are areas in the nation where many homes sell for under £50,000. This is in contrast to what is happening in well-to-do London.  A quote: “Overseas buyers are behind much of the boom in what upmarket estate agents are now referring to as a new mini city-state, PCL – prime central London. In 2012, of 7,000 new-build homes, more than 5,000 went to overseas buyers, and the estate agency Knight Frank said buyers from just two countries, China and Singapore, bought 40% of them. But buyers rarely occupy the properties, leaving parts of prime central London empty of residents. The main beneficiary has been the Treasury, which in March last year imposed a 7% stamp duty on home sales above £2m.”

Is there a similar phenomenon in specific neighbourhoods of Vancouver with unoccupied houses and condos? People in the Dunbar area decry the deterioration in neighbourliness that is a result of houses left unoccupied. Other results:

  • the local economy is not supported (aside from landscape maintenance and security businesses)
  • children are not enrolled in schools
  • participation in community centres, places of worship, and other local organizations does not take place 
  • the pool of residents for civic engagement is reduced
  • the opposite of densification happens
  • public transit is not used
  • fewer people out and about taking walks and gardening can mean less safety

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

3996 West 31st Avenue, Revised

When I published the blog in May 2013 about the demolition of this house, one block away from me, I did not have a proper photo of the house. A Dunbar resident came to the rescue and supplied two photos, the first taken February 2012 and the second taken on April Fools Day in 2013. He also let me know that the house was built in 1941, not 1948. He had taken the photos because he thought it was a "cute house". There were a few houses of this style built in the Dunbar area. This one (3996 West 31st Avenue) was torn down on May 22, 2013. A half block away at 4064 West 31st Avenue stood a similar one but with red trim and a different roof line; it was torn down on July 18, 2011.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Three on West 34th Avenue

Vancouver Vanishes has already featured this Arts and Crafts house that was built between 1914 and 1917 at 3695 West 34th Avenue. There are only a few such houses scattered in the Dunbar area, and they deserve to be restored. The style is one that is emulated by much of the new construction (but in my view way over the top in scale and detail). Renovating this house would have been an exceedingly expensive proposition because of all the necessary upgrades along with the City's requirements, but instead of all the charm ending up in the landfill, wouldn't you rather see these few original houses with at least their fronts preserved and restored remain in the neighbourhood? Such houses can be seen in the Kits area.

This house was torn down in May or June 2013.

Also featured by Vancouver Vanishes is a second house that was on the other side of Dunbar Street, at 3553 West 34th. The ad, back in the fall of 2010, stated "good for holding or build". I like the extra wide south-facing dormer, possibly added some time after the late 20's when the house was built. In mid November 2011 the house looked like this:
This house was torn down in July 2013.

The third house stood across the street at 3556 West 34th Avenue. The real estate ad at the end of 2010 stated "prime building lot". In December 2010 it appeared fairly derelict, with even greener moss on the roof in April 2013 when the second photo was taken. But it was a great camellia! Torn down in May or June 2013.

Many houses stand empty and derelict for too many months. Reasons can be:
  • asbestos issues
  • a reselling
  • issues with the City or neighours regarding the plan
  • attempts to divide the lot into two
  • oil tank issues
  • estate issues
  • unwillingness to rent

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Good News - Here are photos of 4070 W. 31st (following blog) by former owner

In my previous blog entry (the one now following this one), I lamented that I did not have photos of our neighbour's beautiful home and garden, both of which now reside in Landfill-land.   Well good news . . . Jan has provided a few photos showing their home at its prime.

Both he and his daughter are professional gardeners, whose work has beautified many gardens in this area.  Now that he can no longer garden at 4070, Jan looks after another garden, the little one on the east side of the Dunbar Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3491 West 31st Ave, on the corner of W 31st and Collingwood.  Do visit this little gem.

Here are Jan's photos of their former home at 4070 W. 31st.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Destruction on July 30

7:21 am July 31--the gap
What did the house look like?
With dismay I discovered that I did not have a full frontal "before" photo, but here are a few partial views of this home of dear friends and close neighbours.

The last spring garden. The garden was well designed and admired by everyone.
4064, the house to the east was torn down on July 18, 2011.

The beautiful pool and garden of 4070 remains serene while 4064 is being demolished in the background. Neighbours transplanted many of the plants into their own gardens.
The rear of the house, "before".
View of the garage from the back yard. Several neighbours would have loved to have this beautiful garage replace their own decrepit 1930's versions.

A view of the formerly lovely back garden.
A chronology of July 30, 2013:

The excavator arrived shortly after 9:00 am.
10:58 Already the chimney is gone.








In case you didn't notice on the previous photo, the owners liked the colour orange!


4:20 rear of house with drywall pile



 The Garage Came Down Fast on July 31


The Waste
Of course we are aware that demolitions are not green, but some examples bring the situation to the fore, showing the massive contrast with the careful recycling every Vancouver household is supposed to do each week.

The refrigerator

These three interior views without the drywall show the solid wood structure in this house, likely built in the late 1930's or early 1940's with a second storey added around 1980.  Along with being an expert gardener, the owner did excellent carpentry work.

Neighbours took away most of the rocks around the pond and many other stones of various sizes to use in their own gardens, but this walkway was cemented together, so off to the landfill it goes.

Do we need another picture of the pile of drywall that is headed for drywall purgatory?
How many trucks will it take to remove all the debris and dig a deeper and larger footprint for both the house and garage? (Hollyhocks, something cheery from me in contrast to this sad tale!)

The Dangers
The neighbour children had to leave their place of sidewalk art due to poor air quality.

 And The Story Goes On...
4070 does not appear to be the last demolition in the neighbourhood. Later that same day, this took place across the lane.

Why such a long blog? Because this was the home of friends, neighbours who were engaged with people on the block, helping others in various ways for 40 some years. We all miss them!

Credit goes to J. Evan Kreider who took some of these photos.