Monday, October 15, 2012

Dunbar Community Group Launches Website: Re-Vision

If you live in Dunbar or in any of the other neighbourhoods that will be impacted by Vancouver City Council's recent "Interim Housing Rezoning Bylaw," you might be interested in checking out this blog:

The purpose of this blog is to allow people the opportunity to voice their opinions about a for profit (with zero affordable housing) six story seniors' home proposed by Pacific Arbour Retirement Homes in Dunbar.

From the website:

We wanted to make you aware of the proposed redevelopment of the 4600 block of Dunbar Street (just south of Stong’s) that if approved would set the standard for all new developments in and around Dunbar Village and would dramatically change the look and feel of our community.

This site will provide you with the resources to contact city hall and let your feelings be known, so please check it out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tour Laneway Houses with The Vancouver Heritage Foundation This Month

This time last year, I wrote about the Vancouver Heritage Foundation's Laneway House Tour because our laneway house was a part of that day. Now, a full year later, our little house is completed and rented to a fantastic person from the States and I'm pleased to report that it's going very well!

This month, The Vancouver Heritage foundation has another laneway house tour, and if you are at all interested in building or living in one of these charming, small homes, I suggest you take advantage of the opportunity to visit some of them on Saturday October 20th. This fall, seven houses will be opened to the public. Visit site details.

We found this tour really helpful when we were building our house. This is a great way to get ideas for your own design!

Pacific Arbour Retirement Communities in Dunbar

Below is a copy of a letter sent around to a select number of residents in Dunbar, Vancouver. Dunbar has approx. 10,000 adults, and I'm not sure how many under 18s live here, but I can assure you there are many young families and teens. Pacific Arbour sent out 500 - 1000 letters and I know many people who were unaware of this meeting. Despite that, over a hundred people showed up - toward the end of the meeting, when many people had already walked out, there were still 120 residents in the room.

My impression: Dunbar does support a resident for seniors, but true to our community plan, we do not support a building anywhere over four stories – something Pacific Arbour refused to acknowledge. This refusal meant the meeting ended badly. Pacific Arbour lost control of the crowd and left everyone angry and frustrated.

Their presentation did not go over well. Ours is an educated community and their amateur power-point explaining what a retirement home is, peppered with happy elderly residents singing the praises of Pacific Arbour was at best an insulting testimonial and at worst a sales pitch gone wrong.

Although , I have to question how many seniors can afford $5000 + a month to live. Lots of the seniors I know can't contemplate that. And by the way, what happened to providing some affordable housing in new buildings – didn't City Hall recently propose just that.

Anyway, this blog was about lanehouses, but I think I might switch it up a bit and write about Pacific Arbour's unpopular plan to force a seven-story building on Dunbar. More to come!


September 17,2012

Dear Dunbar residents,

Pacific Arbour Retirement Communities is exploring the potential for an
Independent Living Seniors Residence on Dunbar Street. We have purchased two of
the six houses on the block immediately south of Stongs and have the other four
under contract. We intend to develop a seniors residence on this block if it is
warranted and if we have community support for the project.

We have not submitted a development application yet, preferring to meet and
involve the community in thinking about the residence before a rezoning
application is pursued.

Please join us in an introductory meeting; to learn more about Pacific Arbour and
hear how your participation can guide our plans over the coming months.

When: Thursday, October 4th, 2012

6:30-8:30 pm

Where: St. Phillip's Anglican Church

3770 West 27th Avenue

Light refreshments served

If you have further questions, please Contact Rick or Iulie Marzolf, Community
Relations, at 604-742-3210 or

A project web site specifically for the Dunbar site is underway. We will be posting
our information there in future as another way of staying in touch.

Sincerely yours,

Peter Gaskill

450 - 1550 Alberni Street, Vancouver. British Columbia, Canada VÓG 1A5

tel 604.408.5811 fax 604.669.5813 www.pacìñ

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Lanehouse Rented: A Wonderful Home

Today, I've decided to catch up on my blogging as I've neglected to do so for the past few months. I am happy to report that our completed and lovely laneway house is rented for a six to ten month tenant, who is loving the house as well as Dunbar. Of course, what's not to like?

The lanehouse garden, designed by Brian Minter has really grown since the above photo was taken a few months ago, and as he promised, it is easy to care for and lovely to look at.

The tenant has a sweet little dog – it wasn't easy for them to find a dog-friendly home in Vancouver – and they love the little park at the end of our lane, and of course the dog beach at Spanish Banks.

I have been very pleased with Lynn Shaw at Sunstar Realty. My advice to you if you are trying to rent your property is to get an agent. It's a lot of work and involves a lot of advertising, interviewing, showing, credit chequing ect...

So, now, I can happily report that "Yes! It was all worth it." Now, I really want to renovate our kitchen... of course, this was bound to happen :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Final Inspection Failed – Say It Ain't So

I didn't think I would ever find myself writing this particular post, but alas, I am. A long time ago, we put down a $2000 deposit to the City of Vancouver for any damages incurred on city property, mainly sidewalks and this week we were looking forward to getting that money back.

On Friday, the City Inspector came by for a final look-see and discovered that the asphalt apron on the northwest side of the laneway house has not been installed. This apron is in place to keep water from draining from the lane onto our property (which is an impossibility because of the slope direction), but it makes sense and would look much better, so I am in full agreement. Also, there is a big hole around the power pole that needs to be filled and paved.

The inspector was very helpful on the phone and has offered to drop by at our convenience to explain exactly what he wants done. This is a small and final hurdle, but one I did not expect to be facing. I am hoping we can remedy this quickly, get our cash and go out for dinner! I'm always hoping stuff like this.

As far as renting the laneway house, we have not, so far been successful. Our agent at Sunset Realty says this is a very slow year, and I have many other friends with empty basement suites and apartments, so I have no reason to doubt her word. April is usually a slow time of year for rentals in Vancouver – all the full time students head home for the summer, and the rental market usually picks up again in the fall. Still, our target rental market is not students, so I am a little concerned. I think that part of the problem is that we, unlike so many others have decided to use our garage as a garage and so our house is one bedroom, but what a spectacular one bedroom home it is!

I know one happy university student, who is thankful for the lack of paying tenants – our son, home from third year is happily ensconced in the laneway house, and I don't think he's keen to move out anytime soon. According to him, "it's a great place to live." I'm sure. I know what his last year's digs looked like at school – he's gone from one star to five!

In the meantime, Dunbar continues to be in a constant state of flux. Power hammers, pavers, tar, workers, line painters, while across the road from us two houses are going up. It's really noisy around here and sometimes I feel like I live in a gravel pit. Everything is covered in a fine layer of dust and half the time the streets are closed, making parking impossible.

Come to think of it, forget dinner out. Maybe we should take our deposit and head for woods or the islands or anywhere where there are no bulldozers, jack hammers or whatever it is that is making the main house vibrate at the moment...

Ah, sudden silence – must be lunchtime.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lanehouse for Rent

On Monday, June 14th, 2010, I wrote my first post for this blog: Building a Laneway House in Vancouver. It was called "Laneway Houses: this is what I know and here it is:

Not a lot. I grew up in Vancouver and back in the day, lane houses did exist, although we called them coach houses and they were in the back gardens of Shaughnessy mansions and gardeners lived in them...They were about five times bigger than the house we live in now - and lovely and stately too.

Forward 25 years and 'coach houses' although we call them lane-way houses, or lane houses, are back in fashion. I suppose we call them laneway houses because, unlike their elegant cousins, they are actually built in lanes and not around the back behind the tennis courts.

I think they can be still be elegant. I love small spaces, and when done right they always feel really big.

Anyway, that's about the extent of what I know, going into this.

Here we are, April 11th, 2012 and I have learned so much, as you will see if you browse through this blog. It's been an interesting ride, that's for sure. Back then, Laneway houses were still rare; today there are two others in our lane, and at least two more in the planning stages.

Although we initially did plan on living in our laneway house, (which is extraordinarily beautiful), we have since decided to use the garage as a garage, unlike most lanehouse owners, for a little while, and therefore, will move in when we convert it to a two bedroom place.

It was a tough decision for me. I love the house and I've spent endless hours in there, since it's completion getting a feel for the place, for the light, for the sound system, the heated floors and the wonderful kitchen.

Now it's for rent. We chose to manage the rental for the first year, and so far we've got a lot of interest.

City Electrical Inspection Today

Today I am blogging from Whistler, where the winter is in the air and the leaves are in full fall brilliance. Today, while I am here working on my book, the City Electrical Inspection will be taking place and when we pass this, which I'm sure we will, BC Hydro will hook up power to our laneway house. Read full article on this site