On Commercial Drive, far removed from Vancouver’s skyscrapers, locals are proud of their low-rise lifestyle.
“It’s an old school type of street. I don’t like the new stuff, the high rises, but it’s creeping around us,” said area resident JC Cronkhite.
But now there’s a new plan to go “up.” Not by much, just five storeys. If approved, the mid rise would replace a parking lot behind a coffee shop at Commercial Drive and Napier Street. It would include include rental units and the developer promises the building would fit the neighbourhood. Still, the plan has some neighbours up in arms.
“We don’t want another Yaletown here in Grandview. Those of us who live here love it,” said Penny Street, a neighbour and member of the “No Tower Coalition.”
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But given the housing crisis, one expert says it’s time for residents to accept the inevitable.
“Five storeys is not nearly enough on a busy intersection anywhere on Commercial. For the neighbours to complain is understandable. They want someone else to bear the cost of density. But if nobody does, affordability will get worse. These neighbours, I would say, are making the world a worse place,” said Thomas Davidoff with UBC’s Sauder School of Business.
Support for taller buildings can be found along Commercial Drive – but mostly from younger renters.
“I’m actually a big fan of density, because housing is such a problem for everyone right now. I think anything that can make that more available to people is very positive,” said Rachel Barker.
The real divide on Commercial Drive may not be over height. It may just be generational.