Vancouver Ghost Town Welcomes ~5% Increase To Family Rental Housing Stock

3449 3479 West 41st Avenue & 5664 Collingwood Street
As public consultation grinds to a halt over the winter holidays, and Darren is normally the one who covers reviews by the Urban Design Panel, I thought I had already written my last post for this year. While there were a couple small events scheduled, none of them seemed like they would generate enough of a response to write about. That changed when we were tipped-off about a pre-application open house for a rental building near the Dunbar Loop.

For a city that champions public engagement, I fail to understand why notice of these early meetings are only sent to addresses within two blocks of the project. Which is why we are so grateful when one of our loyal readers pass them along, as the odd time when we forget to post them, we can still share what we learn. In this case, the events that have happened beforehand are just as important.


After all, only six years ago, a proposal for a similar-sized building in Dunbar drew over 300 emails and comments. As roughly 80% were opposed, city staff rejected that proposal before a public hearing, and a shorter development was built instead. Since then, our city’s housing availability crisis has dramatically worsened, and now even the Dunbar Residents’ Association admits the community has become a ghost town, as only 1% of homes here are purposed built rental, with only 93 having three-bedroooms. (pg 7)

Of course, these groups only represent the few who choose to join them. So, when we arrived at this event almost an hour after it started, I was not surprised to hear some express it was the proposed height, density, and lack of parking that would destroy this neighbourhood. That said, several of the evening’s ~70 attendees felt this was just what the area needed, which was an opinion recently expressed by newly independent Councillor Rebecca Bligh (8:54:05 – 8:54:27).


It appears most on city council agree, given their decision last month (pg 16) to consider allowing four floor rental buildings on certain side streets (pg 63), as well as continuing to allow six floors on arterial roads. So, it seems unnecessary for this building to transition to the single family homes to the east by stepping down to four floors. Frankly, it has also created a really odd element, as the eastern emergency stairwell protrudes awkwardly above the lower floors.

This is not the only problem the structure has with bulges, as the southern face has several sections that push outwards in an attempt to add a bit of variation to what is otherwise a long wall. However, thanks to Darren’s musings about the Urban Design Panel, I also know this makes it more difficult and expensive for it to meet Vancouver’s strict sustainability requirements. More than that, it has pushed the balconies near the main entrance into what feel like dark holes.


The provision of a rooftop amenity should mitigate this, but these future tenants deserve the same thoughtful consideration shown to the adjacent single family homes. The project’s various setbacks help eliminate any potential overlook, or shadowing. Frankly, a few people did not seem to care and were eager to welcome new neighbours. With the Save-On Foods to the west, and the nearby R4 Rapid Bus stop, they believed this would be a great spot for young families.

Certainly the large percentage of two and three bedroom homes provided here will help that goal, but they may also serve a different generation. Apparently, it is not uncommon for retired couples to downsize into these large apartments to retain their possessions from their single-family homes. No matter which generation you belong to, your thoughts matter. So take a look at the information boards here, and send your comments to Allison Millar at before December 17th, 2019.

Applicant Team Information:

Developer Sightline Properties
ArchitectsCiccozzi Architecture Inc

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