A Final Battle – Vancouver Families Face Exile As Shaughnessy Fights To Preserve Community Values

4750 Granville Street and 1494 West 32nd Avenue
Perhaps Darren and I would have skipped this open house if we knew it would be the last time we would be able to drop by the VanDusen Botanical Garden before it was closed due to physical distancing measures. After all, I would rather remember our visit to the Festival of Lights, instead of this small room crammed full of people. I may not suffer from claustrophobia, but many of the comments I heard left me feeling uneasy.

In contrast, others left with a sense of comfort after they learned this developer was not responsible for the project adjacent to the Vancouver Hospice Society which city council rejected last summer. That proposal will not return, as the policy set to replace the Affordable Housing Choices IRP will once again prohibit new rental developments in nearly all of Shaughnessy (pg 24). Instead, the housing supply in this neighbourhood will continue to diminish, as Mole Hill-like dwellings are converted into mansions.

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This proposal has shrunken too, as the total living space, and the footprint of the building have been reduced in response to community feedback from the pre-application open house (pg 6). This has led to the elimination of two 1-bedroom homes, but the amount of family-sized housing remains intact. Many of those who appeared to be long-retired were stunned by this, as they could not believe young couples would both choose to work in order to raise a family here.

The possibility this might reverse this neighbourhood’s 20-year-long decline of those under 19 raised alarm, as some claimed the area’s private schools were already at capacity. That might be true, but an expansion of the nearby York House School was approved in 2018, and the applicant boards revealed several local public schools are actually under capacity (pg 4). Nonetheless, many felt there were better places for building this, with suggestions ranging from Oakridge, Mount Pleasant, or Surrey.

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One individual, who dominated the room for most of evening, boasted the average Vancouverite simply had a “malicious envy” of Shaughnessy residents. I was sickened when they compared these 81 rental homes to a “holocaust,” adding city staff were “suicidal” to consider putting this “dump near such beautiful homes.” To their credit, the applicant team and city staff calmly addressed this uncivil individual throughout all of this, treating them with far more respect than they deserved.

While no one else exhibited this horrifying behaviour, most agreed city staff should not allow this project to “ruin this beautiful neighbourhood.” As one person admitted, their home was their largest investment, so their main priority was to see it continue to rise in value, and not decline like it did last year. Others agreed this meant young professionals would not be able to afford to live in Vancouver, but believed they should be happy to live in Kelowna instead.

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Those from Abundant Housing Vancouver in attendance strongly disagreed with this opinion, as they expressed affordable housing belongs in all of our city’s neighbourhoods. Still, they were outraged to learn the ARKS Community Vision suggests all new growth in Shuaghnessy should be along arterial roads to shield single-family homes from traffic (pg 42). This will only worsen in the future, as the western edge of this property will be shaved off by 15 feet to eventually allow a widening of Granville Street.

Already there was a desire expressed by some to fill that new road space, as they felt there needed to be more than 70 parking stalls for these 81 homes. That amount far exceeds the 46 spaces required by city policy (pg 6), which shows how public opinion can shape our city. As this may be your last chance to make your voice heard on a rental building in Shaughnessy, don’t waste it; make sure to leave your thoughts here.

You can view more photos of this project’s model here on our Instagram.

Applicant Team Information:

Developer Domus Homes
ArchitectsStuart Howard Architects Inc

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