Trust Dan Fumano in his Vancouver Sun article to wade right into the ongoing NIMBY and YIMBY discussions which in many ways mirror what we all think is happening on the west side of the City of Vancouver. In his article (and you should read the comments on-line) a group of older articulate residents express their displeasure with the potential for a new five storey building on the site of the old St. Marks Church at Second and Larch in deepest darkest Kitsilano.
This application for 1805 Larch Street is for a 66 foot tall five storey building that will have 63 secured rental units which will be built under the City of Vancouver’s Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP). What this means is that 20 percent of the building will be for “moderate income” renters, those earning between $30,000 and $80,000 annually. In total the building will have 19 studios, 16 one-bedrooms, 20 two-bedrooms, and eight three-bedroom apartments, with underground parking and a rooftop patio.
In the rezoning application for the three lot site, Metric Architecture describes the church as disused for ecclesiastical services, but notes that its location and site lends itself for moderate income family accommodation.
“The site and its use, coupled with position and mature landscape afford us a unique opportunity to allow a greater density for the benefit of moderate income families under this limited pilot policy…We have designed a sensitive contextual residential building and believe there will be very little disturbance for neighbours compared to some of the large events that the current St Marks, and all parking will be within the building curtilage. The landscaping is key, and most of it will remain to continue the mature boulevard of trees that are the character of the area providing backdrop and privacy.”
But no even though this site is abutting the cherished RM-4 area of wonderful older rental apartments that have good access to the beach, some older homeowners brought out a surprising litany of reasons why this application was out-of-place. And it is what you usually hear at any rezoning hearing~its too big, there will be more cars, it’s ugly, it is not in neighbourhood character, and basement suites are already available in character homes already in the area.
And this is where I think we are talking about the proposed work in the wrong way. I spoke yesterday to a recruiter for a national health company that could not find licensed practical nurses to work in a Kitsilano location. Instead this recruiter had to substantially increase salary levels, and those qualified individuals will be commuting daily from Surrey to Vancouver. Look at almost any retail block in the Kits area and you will see signs in windows advertising for staff. Talk to any person in business in Kitsilano and they are having difficulty finding qualified individuals to work, as those workers cannot find accommodation to live in the area.
There will also be a need for workers to provide health services to an aging west side population, and that is inclusive of these outspoken residents. Without the diversity of housing type and form, services desperately needed by an aging population will be unavailable. We need more housing in Kitsilano, and the reasons why need to be more fully discussed with residents.
Change is hard~but I would argue that change is the one dynamic that remains the same through life.Adding housing forms that allow for a range of residents will add to the liveliness of the neighbourhood, as well as its future wellbeing. As planners we need to talk more about mutual interests in developing cohesive communities,and directly address positional postures.
You can take a look at Dan Fumano’s YouTube video below which outlines some of the concerns of these older Kitsilano homeowners.