png0628Nsecretgarden-06

This week I wrote about the City of Vancouver turning down recognition of the Davis Family who transformed the 100 block of West Tenth Avenue, and who worked tirelessly to bring in the Mount Pleasant zoning that supported maintaining the area’s Edwardian and Victorian houses. Way before the City of Vancouver launched laneway houses, the Davis Family was already making rental units available in the houses they saved from demolition, and oh yes, they built a few laneway houses too.

Every time I think of the Davis Family and their three generations that have promoted neighbourliness and community building I come up with a new initiative they pioneered. One was eliminating the harsh “crotch dropping” of mature street trees to allow for the unfettered access to hydro lines in the trees. The Davis family refused to allow BC Hydro to butcher their street trees, taking the keys to the offending  tree cutting vehicles and not giving them back. The compromise  was taken forward to  City of Vancouver council,  and that was raising the hydro lines in mature trees so that the trees were not brutally altered. That is now civic policy  for mature tree canopies.

The response supporting the Davis Family receiving a City of Vancouver proclamation has been extraordinary from social media supporters,  from local heritage experts, from architects, from city staffers, from area residents  and from the Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Association.  I will be talking on CBC Radio’s On The Coast with Gloria Macarenko this afternoon on City of Vancouver proclamations, and why this exceptional family should be recognized.

Still no word from the city about doing the right thing, proclaiming Davis Family Day the week of February 17 to 22, when the Vancouver Heritage Foundation is hosting a week of events~with some in Heritage Hall, just a few blocks from the Davis Family houses.

3841243971_b5ec468fce_b

fullsizeoutput_2e59

 

Images: sandy james & postmedia

Comments

  1. Wow, I didn’t know this history – that it is was a single couple that initiated and defended 100 West 10th Avenue block from impatient, crass development. It’s now a lovely bike route and pedestrian friendly road but very busy part of the city. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Well, a whole family – actually. The photo is of John and his mother Pat who passed away last year at 95 or so. John and his brother Geoff took over from their father who actually started the project. One of John’s daughters also continues to maintaint he legacy. John will give credit to others too – and that’s why this day is important, so that this story lives on in more than the memory of the Davises.

  2. I see the long reach of the Broadway Plan in this and the orthodoxy that says their community is too close to a subway station to be allowed to exist. Pack ’em in, the city will say, while paying lip service to existing communities and the diversity of the city.

    1. Preservation of heritage buildings can be part of densifying the city. Several houses on neither side of the Davis block already have infill housing, some of them new but with design detailing borrowed from the original structure. One house + infill coach house on the Davis block was completely renovated, with all the exterior and interior heritage features remaining intact or replicated, yet the foundations and all the utility systems were upgraded while the lot went from a single-family home to a duplex strata with a coach house.

      It can be done with the right architect. I happen to know the one who did the work above and he is a talented heritage specialist who also understands the need for modern engineering and energy conservation. Blanket statements should not be part of an intelligent discourse on preserving heritage when Vancouver is massively endowed with land locked up in low density zoning

  3. As Andy Coupland points out in some of the basics of the Grand Bargain, 1,000 homes a year are demolished in Vancouver. Ponder that for a moment. That’s more homes that are found in many small towns. A town a year carted away in dump trucks thanks to demolition permits issued by the City of Vancouver. The greenest city on the planet? Not so much. Vancouver could be one of the most wasteful cities on the planet. And the reason for demolition? So a new home can be built! This is the very process that the Davis family objected to most vigorously, the needless destruction of perfectly good homes. It is also a pattern of destruction that the City has found various ways to ignore. So, why then should we expect the City to honour anyone who dares to renovate, to add to and maintain an existing home let alone save an entire block of homes from the wrecking ball? Some reflection is required on this point as we are burning up the planet with this kind of behavior.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *