Heart Warming Homes Prove To Be A Bright Spot In The Shadows Of A Cold Winters Night

1425 and 1451 East 12th Avenue
As Darren and I made our way through the snow to this open house, I wondered if we would be the only ones in attendance. Worse still, I feared due to this weather, the city might cancel this event, like they did with a different meeting earlier this year. In contrast, Darren wondered if those opposed to a similar non-market housing proposal by this non-profit society at 2924 Venables Street would come out to this meeting as well.

Admittedly, neither of us understand the position of those individuals, as this proponent has made it a priority to look after their tenants in the five buildings they plan to renew and grow. All of the residents have been found new homes to live in during the construction process, and will be allowed to come back at their current rents too (pg 26). This has left us wondering if we are overlooking something, but if we are, we did not find it here.

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Instead we found something warmed our hearts on this cold day. That moment came when an older woman describe how happy she was to see this development. She claimed to live in one of these buildings, and was thrilled the new ones would now have elevators. When she found out that all of the new homes (pg 11), save for the former superintendent’s unit (pg 12), would be larger than the existing ones, her joy became palpable.

This was not an isolated occurrence, as this sentiment was shared by many of the 44 people who braved the weather this night. More than that, they withstood the traffic on East 12th Avenue, which is perhaps why several raised concerns over why the larger of two outdoor amenity spaces was located along this busy road. This was judged to be the lesser of two evils, as the alternative was to place it behind these two buildings in perpetual shade.

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At first glance, it looks like this could have been better resolved if the Loyal Orange Manor and Edward Byers House were combined into one structure. Yet, that was never a possibility as one of Metro Vancouver’s trunk sewer lines cuts through this property, and continues north under several homes. Many appeared horrified by this, as apparently the engineers of the past never realized this infrastructure would need to access it for maintenance or if there was a disastrous leak.

This affects several single family homes, as well as another building operated by this society. Some of those residents came to this, but unfortunately, I lacked the skills to communicate with them. To my relief, there was a sign language interpreter in attendance who ensured their opinions were not overlooked, but respected. Other neighbours raised concerns about which trees would be preserved and the treatment of the laneway, but generally supported the application.

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In fact, one who was very familiar with the challenges of designing a building that can achieve passive house suitability standards, strongly praised the city for not requiring the upper floors to be setback. This simple form is not only more sustainable, but should be cheaper to design too, as it requires less insulation, That said, I hope the colour palette is expanded from the current monochrome tones to incorporate a splash of orange in homage to the site’s history.

This desire was expressed by several others in the room, and a member of the applicant team admitted they had considered it as well. We will soon find out if the Urban Design Panel echos this view, as despite being proposed under the SHORT Program, this project will be forced to spend time, and money, to undergo that review. Of course, your thoughts are important, so make sure they are not lost down the drain and leave them here.

View more photos from the open house here.

Applicant Team Information:

Developer Brightside Community Homes Foundation
ArchitectRyder Architecture

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