A Vancouver resident who’s passionate about documenting character homes before they’re demolished has turned her popular Facebook page into an interactive map.
With over 11,000 fans, the Vancouver Vanishes Facebook page has continuously posted photos and information on the hundreds of mostly West Side character homes that have faced demolition since 2013.
Resident and author Caroline Adderson created the page after noticing so many beautiful homes in her neighbourhood were being torn down. She began tracking their location and taking photos during daily dog walks.
Now the 410 properties tracked so far have been mapped so audiences can see just how prevalent these demos are.
Demolished Character Houses in Vancouver (map):
Andrea Leung, a fan of the page and tech industry worker, volunteered to create the map. She says the map is meant to provide a snapshot view that will “aggregate and put into perspective pieces of information.”
“I hope it will serve as a more convenient way to see what a specific location used to look like, give a better idea of where the changes were, and also perhaps to pause for a moment and consider the issue of heritage preservation,” Leung said.
But both Leung and Adderson say the map is not fully complete.
“It’s not showing the whole city, it’s just showing what I’ve archived,” said Adderson. “So you can obviously see where I live, because that’s where the great concentration of these houses are. If this was done for every neighbourhood, I think the whole city would look like this because those demolitions represent a tiny number of what we’re actually losing.”
Adderson says there are so many more homes to document before they disappear, but she can’t get to them all.
“I’ve been doing this for three and a half years now, and it takes a lot of time. I’m tired. I see what is happening on Granville and Oak and Cambie, and I know I should go and take some pictures, but you know, I’m just exhausted.”
And as irony would have it, as Adderson talked to Global News, hammering could be heard in the background. The house across the street, the last original house on the street, is being torn down.
“People say my page is the most depressing page on Facebook,” she joked.
She posts three demolitions each week and sends each one to Vancouver City Council in hopes something will change.
“What we’re losing here are the most affordable buildings in the city. There are basement suites in those houses and they’re probably really cheap. The apartment buildings they are putting up are going to be $1,200 a month for one bedroom.”
Adderson also laments the loss of craftsmanship, adding that the character homes are largely hand-built with old-growth lumber, while the new homes aren’t built to last.
“These are endangered cultural properties… it’s really the stripping of the soul.”
Since 2012, the City of Vancouver says they have granted over 4,200 single family home demolition permits. There have already been over 500 issued so far this year.