6031 Dunbar Street
Over the last couple years, Darren and I have meet many people who share our sense of civic passion, though our opinions often differ. For instance, while we worried these nine rental homes could generate a large backlash, one of our acquaintances was more skeptical. Certainly they were right to point out a lot has changed here since 2013, when community opposition forced city staff to reject a six-story development at the former site of Stong’s Market.
Now, even the Dunbar Residents’ Association worries a lack of affordable housing options has hollowed out the community. These neighbourhood groups may have good intentions, but as they can only represent their membership, they may not accurately represent their entire community. Which was the case this night, as we bumped into an acquaintance who warned us the reception was angry, old and white. That may vaguely reflect this area’s demographics, but I would hesitate to describe this evening that way.
Still, many of the 50 people in attendance were older, single-family home owners who worried this development would lower the value of their multi-million dollar properties. That was somewhat surprising, as this proposed three and half floor building will only be slightly taller than the $2.4 million home it will replace, and cast a similar shadow. Nonetheless, a few immediate neighbours were adamant a barrier should be set up to protect them from renters who would invade their privacy.
Those across the lane felt particularly strong about this, and believed the nearby hydro poles should be buried to enable these screens, no matter the costs involved. This alley was a focal point of discussion, as many worried it would be overwhelmed by this development’s four parking stalls, and one claimed any construction would make them feel unsafe to drive home. These individuals agreed this project would be better located along Southeast Marine Drive, and not their quiet street.
In contrast, some felt a large underground parkade should be provided instead, but at a cost of $50,000 a stall, it would make this application unviable. It also feels unnecessary, as the Dunbar Bus Loop, the R4 Rapid Bus and a Save-On-Foods are only a short walk away. This rapid-transit connection caused some anxiety, as one group felt a nearby home that housed eleven students from UBC has only increased the amount of garbage and noise in the area.
It is more likely future residents will consist of professors, scientists from TRIUMF, or retirees looking to downsize, as these homes will rent at market rates. Ironically, after learning that, many complained this went against the goals of the Affordable Housing Choices Interim Rezoning Policy. That common refrain is partially why city council voted to close that program last year, and consider replacing it with the Secured Rental Policy, which Councillor Rebecca Bligh believed would serve this area well (8:54:05 – 8:54:27).
However, a quick comparison between these policies reveals the later will prohibit multi-family buildings in much of the Dunbar-Southlands’ southwestern corner. This confused a few individuals who, along with their neighbours, had intended to assemble their properties to create new rental homes. They spent much of the meeting trying to understand why this lot could still reach up to six floors if it was combined with a corner property, yet they would be left with no options.
This desire shocked one young planning student, as they questioned why anyone would allow such a nice neighbourhood to be destroyed by these proposals. Clearly I do not think city staff expected this level of opposition, as originally they did not feel an Urban Design Panel review would be needed for such a small, simple design. That may change now, which shows the power of public input. So no matter your thoughts, make sure to leave them here.
You can view more photos of the building model on our Instagram.