So as I mentioned last week, the new owners of the house next door want to put up a building in the backyard, and i wasn’t happy about it. On Thursday afternoon I went to the ~workshop~ they had with the architects or w/e. Really it was just all their boards with mockups placed around the room for us all to look at, and the architects dodging questions from anyone who didn’t love their gross building. The people who came were mostly residents of the neighborhood and a few rich dicks, and the people who were for or against the plan were split exactly across those lines, as in NO ONE who lives here wants this.
Basically their plan is actually even worse than I could have imagined. They want to move the existing house forward to the very front of the lot, making the backyard bigger, and then put up a big, ugly, three-and-a-half storey condo building right outside my window. It would be taller than the existing house, taller than the house on the east side of the lot and even taller than the house I live in, which is one of the biggest houses on the block. Because they want to move the existing house forward, the new building will block the entire window on the east side of the living room, and because it will go all the way back to the laneway it will also block the office window, at the south end of the room (my apartment is pretty open plan, and the living room & office are part of the same room). This building will block, and I’m not even kidding, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the natural light in my apartment, not to mention the non-stop construction noise nightmare I’d be living next to. And did I mention I work from home? Looking after babies that need to nap during the day? And that my husband works nights and sleeps during the day? And that this will ruin our lives?
And just to add to the horseshit, they aren’t even putting up a building with any reasonably-priced rental suites for families with children, seniors, people with disabilities, etc. Nope, it’s going to be more million-dollar condos for rich dicks to buy. I’m not even exaggerating when I say this is going to RUIN the neighborhood. For anyone who doesn’t know, the part of the city I live in, Mole Hill, is special. It is the last block of heritage houses left in downtown Vancouver, and back in the late 90s the entire thing was slated to be demolished. A group was formed to try and save the houses from destruction, and against all odds, they succeeded. Instead of being torn down, the houses were all lifted, remodelled and renovated, and then rented out with the goal of creating a diverse neighborhood, with all different sorts of tenants from all walks of life.
Putting in a big, SUPREMELY UGLY and overpriced condo building absolutely DOES NOT MESH with this neighborhood; it’s the complete opposite of what Mole Hill is about. The owners don’t care about the neighborhood or the people who live here; they just care about making more money. Vancouver’s West End doesn’t need more million dollar apartments that no normal person could ever afford, and for them to claim that their vision is in line with the city’s infill housing plan is repulsive. They are also claiming that they are improving the neighborhood by restoring the existing heritage house but like… the previous owners did that. They aren’t improving anything.
In a few weeks there’s going to be a meeting of the tenants and other members of the Mole Hill Society so we can strategize and plan how we can stop this from going forward. The owners of the house haven’t actually applied to the city for any sort of permission or permits yet, so hopefully we can nip this bs in the bud. It’s not that we’re against development, we’re just against THIS development. If the owners wanted to raise up the existing house and put a basement suite under it I don’t think anyone would have a problem. If they wanted to put a small lane house at the back of the property where the current garage is I don’t think anyone would have a problem. I know I wouldn’t, and I’m one of the people who would be the most directly affected by any sort of development and construction next door.
As much as I complain about living here and daydream about moving away, I love where I live. I’m lucky to have such a big, affordable apartment downtown, and all my moving away daydreams are like… winning-the-lottery daydreams. I would only want to move away on our own terms, ie if we could somehow magically afford to buy a house of our own in a place where we wanted to live. I’ve been in this apartment for almost nine years and before that I lived in another apartment in this same house for four years. This is my home! We moved here when Sym was only one year old, and Gwen’s never lived anywhere else. If this proposed development is approved I feel like we’ll have no choice but to move, as first the construction and then the finished building will make this apartment virtually unliveable, and I’m not the only person who feels this way. Over half the tenants of this house and at least one from the house on the other side have said if it goes through they’ll move. I’ve actually already started filling out applications for housing co-ops, as our family can’t afford to rent anything anywhere near downtown otherwise, especially since my job is tied to this apartment.
Back when this entire block was slated for demolition, the people banded together and were able to stop it and save the block. Hopefully we’ll be able to do the same thing now, because I don’t want to lose my home.