Over 200 people crammed into the gym of a Dunbar church last Thursday (Oct. 25) for a Dunbar Re-Vision meeting to talk city density and development.
The group formed earlier this month, sparked by a proposed senior home development on Dunbar Street as high as six stories. But while the height of the privately owner Pacific Arbour retirement residence spurred the group to action, the meeting was focused on the issue of development itself—and Vision Vancouver’s role in that.
Jane Bourne, an 81-year-old volunteer for the Re-visionists, has fought developments over four storeys high in Dunbar for nearly 50 years to make sure the neighbourhood remains the one she loves.
“Living in Dunbar is like being out in the country. I love it,” said Bourne. “If [the senior’s] building went up we wouldn’t get any sunshine in the evenings in the summer time. We wouldn’t see the sunset.”
The speaker at the event introduced Bourne as “the one.” It was at Bourne’s suggestion three weeks ago that the Dunbar Re-vision team formed.
In the past half-century she’s lived in the neighbourhood, Bourne has been an omnipresent voice against high developments.
She was behind the formation of the Dunbar Neighbourhood’s Association nearly 40 years ago that protested the building of a highrise in the area. In 1998, she was part of a group called Vision—not to be confused with the civic party. The Dunbar Vision opposed and saw the end to a proposed local four-storey development.
She’s not done yet either. Now she’s helping the Dunbar Re-vision petition and gather volunteers for a march on city hall Nov. 16.
“I’ve done four sheets of petition,” she said. “It’s hard though. People work and there’s nobody home until dinnertime.”
Bourne’s views on development were one aspect of the meeting. But there were numerous others present who spoke in opposition not just to the height of the senior home, but of a need for complete political upheaval.
Roz Walls, a social worker who’s lived in Dunbar since 1978, echoed that need. Walls takes issue with the lack of affordable housing, the promise for which she says Mayor Gregor Robertson and the Vision Vancouver team has not lived up to.
“I came here because I’m being misled and my neighbourhood is being violated,” she said. “I voted for [Robertson.] You vote for someone and you believe what they say… I think we’re lied to.”
No city councillors from Vision showed up at the meeting, but NPA councillors George Affleck and Elizabeth Ball and Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr attended.
Walls’ primary concern is the lack of affordable housing in every Vancouver
In Dunbar, she wants homes to be restored rather than bulldozed so young families can afford them.
“They’re our heritage. That’s a funny thing to say because they’re not even 100 years old yet, but we’ve destroyed so much in this city, we have no heritage.”
Walls said a more positive example of affordable and acceptable housing for the neighbourhood is a social housing project that was put in at 16th Avenue and Dunbar Street.
“It was also in a business area, an area that had been designated for that,” she said. “What they’re starting to do now is encroach on neighbourhoods.”
Like many speakers at the meeting, she wants to send a message to city hall and members of Vision Vancouver—she’s not happy and will vote accordingly.