Vancouver mayor says vacant city-owned house to be rented out

Click to play video: 'City of Vancouver buying, demolishing homes for park land'
City of Vancouver buying, demolishing homes for park land
Sunday, July 2: City of Vancouver buying homes to demolish for park expansion – Jul 2, 2017

Vancouver’s mayor says a home that’s been sitting empty since the city bought it with plans to expand a park will be rented out after all.

The 1919 character home at 3030 Victoria Drive backs onto John Hendry Park, popularly known as Trout Lake.

LISTEN: Victoria drive resident speaks out against proposed park expansion

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The city originally purchased it more than a year ago with plans to demolish it and seven adjacent houses to expand the 27-hectare park, but the home has been vacant since.

That’s drawn complaints from neighbours and critics who questioned why it wasn’t being rented while the city is in the midst of a housing crisis and levying an empty homes tax of its own.

On Monday, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said the city is now trying to find a way to get tenants into the house.

“At this point I know there are efforts now being made to make sure that that property gets rented out,” Robertson said.

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Robertson’s comments come after other owners on the block resisted offers from the city for their properties.

“Neighbours are signalling that they’re not interested in selling those properties, which is too bad for the community that would be benefitting from a larger park. But I think at this point it’s important to not have an empty house.”

But Victoria Drive resident Pete McCormack said the mayor’s talk of community rings hollow.

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He said several of the houses on the block have been occupied by the same families since the late 1930s and the city’s plan to tear them down would have actually fragmented a community.

“We have pictures of one of the mothers from one of the places here, of their mother skating on the lake in 1938,” he said.

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“Her kids and her grand kids nursed her in the same house as she was dying instead of sending her to a home. So if that’s not community to Gregor Robertson, I’m not sure what community is.”

It’s not clear when the house, which was last assessed at a value of nearly $1.7 million, could actually be rented out.

The city says it is still “assessing water damage that occurred from leaky pipes prior to cutting [the] water off  before considering it for rental use.”

-With files from Kristen Robinson

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