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

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A bit of Dunbar History

On Saturday, November 28, the Dunbar Branch of the Vancouver Public Library celebrated its 65th anniversary. As part of the celebration, John Atkin led a 1 1/2 hour tour of a few blocks near the library. The first stop was on 29th Avenue just west of the library where there are two good examples of 1920's houses on the north side.

     These houses are well built with overhangs to catch the rain and  three coats of stucco. John said that in the 1920's a typical family living here would employ a staff person. The south side of the street was developed in the late 1930's. 
     Dunbar's most prominent building was built in 1910-11 as the Convent of the Sacred Heart, now St. George's Junior School. John praised the school for its careful restoration of the main stone building and of the brick power house. Dunbar's wide streets, wide boulevards, sidewalks, street trees, and set-backs are thanks to regulations adapted from 1922 bylaws of the municipality of Point Grey. These bylaws were intended to promote the value of the community, quality, and livability. 
     John then took us to see some lovely homes on West 26th Avenue, a two-block area between Dunbar Street and Chaldecott Park. I was inspired to do more investigation of that area. Unlike other blocks in the Dunbar area, the 3800 block of West 26th Avenue west of Dunbar has been a stable neighbourhood in recent years. On the north side the houses are generally large, and new ones would not be allowed to be much larger, so there is little incentive to demolish. One house was built in 1989 and another in 1997 but the rest were built between 1927 to 1930. Here are some examples of the lovely original houses that fortunately remain to be admired in their context:




The above photo shows a peak of the one new demolition, 3803 West 26th, that I have not mentioned yet. The original house was built in 1930 and perhaps an enlarged second storey was added. The house was large as you can see on these photos from 2012 when it was sold. (It was sold again in 2014.) The new construction may be for a larger house.




     On the south side of the 3800 block of West 26th Avenue, many of the houses were built in 1925 and one each in 1927 and 1928. There is only one replacement house, built in 1996. Many of the houses have been enlarged, so there is stability there as well.
     The 3600 and 3700 block have more variability, with two homes being readied for demolition and four Vancouver Specials, but a lot of those solid 1920's houses remain, many of which are renovated. Many blocks in the Dunbar area (and elsewhere) are a hodgepodge of Vancouver Specials, 1980's boxes, 21st century modern, empty imitation craftsman, or homes being prepared for demolition, with only a sprinkling of original houses. The number of originals (and renovated originals) on West 26th is something to treasure.

West 26th Avenue is a quiet street with majestic trees. However, Stongs is coming...

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