vancouver-west-end

In today’s Province (a Vancouver newspaper staple) the front page story was all about a new high rise development in the downtown West End. And, to no one’s surprise, some long term residents that are YET AGAIN opposing it.

For years, the West End has served as a safe haven for just about anyone. Gay/Straight, Black/White, Old/Young. 30 + years ago the city rezoned many of the streets into a gridded maze, making it pedestrian friendly, and a lovely place to live/shop and enjoy life.

Fast forward to today- it’s swarming with loads of renters/owners in smaller outdated towers. In fact 75% of the West End buildings were built before 1980. 1980!!! Some of our readers weren’t even born yet!

I wouldn’t be shocked if these words came to your mind after all the pleasantries: Outdated. Old. Bed bugs. 1 plug per room.

Plus, so many Westenders have pets, yet practically every building has a “NO PET” policy. This is the one that I don’t get. Evil companies like HOLLYBURN have spearheaded this. Earlier this year they tried to evict long term residences (some being elderly 80 year olds on fixed income) all due to the fact that they had “a small cat.” Truthfully- I don’t think that was their main hang up as they were trying to off load affordable housing by reno-ing and jacking up the rents. Regardless, Hollyburn- I know that there are some really bad pet owners out there, and it’s not always desirable…in this case though- companies like you can suck my fat one.

But I digress…

The West End’s problem go waaaay beyond those Hollyburn assholes and bedbugs (which are everywhere anyway). Try the less than 1% vacancy rate. Yep. Get on that waiting list dear, and make nice with the property manager.

When I moved to Vancouver 2.5 years ago, I lived in the same building as Dan. A 1 bedroom, 565 sq feet, no pets (but I snuck Tacos in anyway) with a washer/dryer and dishwasher cost me $1180, plus $80/month for parking. As my Dad would say “Affordable shoebox”, and that was after throwing out my business card for leverage (next was home baked muffins, but the predecessor did the trick).

Now the West End might have some newer, hopefully spacious buildings. Both are in the rezoning phase, one being at Bidwell and Davie — a 20-story tower with 49 units of rental housing and 98 market condo units by developer Millennium Properties. The other (headlining in the Province) is the former site of St. John’s United Church on Comox and Broughton. The builders, who also just finished the fabulous Shangri-La Hotel, wish to erect a high-rise comprised of 180 apartments, 13 townhomes and 81 parking spots.

Style, views, NEW. Hmmmm that all sounds horrible to me. Seriously WEST END! We love you! Many of us would love to live there, better yet RETURN THERE. Get with it. It’s not the end of the world. Sure, if every building were torn down and Yaletown part 2 was born, I could see a problem. But this is a chance to finally join the future. My only hope is that with something new and awesome, that average Joe’s like us could actually afford to live there. That remains to be seen.

You can have your voice heard on November 24 at the first public information meeting. This gathering is specifically for Comox Street proposal, at the Coast Plaza Hotel. The city’s decision on the Bidwell site, which has been in the works since 2007, is expected on Dec. 1.