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Protesters call Vancouver house demolition ‘a travesty’

People gather on Sunday to protest the upcoming demolition of a 20-year-old house on Adera Street in Vancouver.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

Protesters carrying signs that read "Please leave built homes standing" and "This is a travesty" met Sunday outside a Vancouver residence that sold for $6-million to protest its impending demolition.

Bev Watt, who organized the event and is a member of the Kerrisdale-Granville Homeowners' Association, told the crowd that demolishing a house that was built 20 years ago marks a "tipping point" for the city.

"Several people have asked me: Why am I doing this? I have no right. And I think the attitude of individual rights has got to go out the window. This is for the common good. It's for our city, it's for the planet, and we can't go on throwing houses, gardens, mature trees out," she said.

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The planned demolition of the house, which sold in 2013, made headlines over the past week and prompted renewed hand-wringing over Vancouver's red-hot real estate market.

The approximately 100 people who attended Sunday's event cheered when Ms. Watt said the city should declare a moratorium on demolitions, and again when she said that tearing down the Adera Street residence was "immoral."

Some left their signs outside the house's front door.

Adriane Carr, a Vancouver city councillor who was at the event, echoed Ms. Watt's message. Ms. Carr said the demolition of the house is "symbolic of changes that are happening in our city."

"It's that tearing down and replacement cycle that's happening at such a rapid pace that's pushing the housing prices up," she said.

Ms. Carr said one option for the city to consider is using zoning bylaws to slow down the pace of development, noting that a similar strategy was used in the Kitsilano neighbourhood in the 1990s.

She said she'd also like to see the federal government track foreign ownership of housing.

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"In a market that is a global market right now because we let it be global, we need to rethink what we want in our city and who the housing is really for. The housing is not for investment, it's for people to live in," she said.

A man who attended Sunday's event but declined to give his name to reporters said he doesn't like the fact that the house is being torn down, "but I think that whether I like it or not is immaterial."

The man, who said he's lived in the neighbourhood for more than 20 years, said he didn't think it should be up to the community to decide whether the house could be demolished.

"This is somebody else's business. I think for other people to impose their likes and dislikes … is inappropriate," he said.

When asked why the owner of the house should not be able to decide what to do with it, Ms. Watt again cited the common good. "It's about neighbourhoods, it's about the environment and we really have to think beyond just what we want, beyond greed," she said.

No one could be seen inside the house during Sunday's event, and a knock on the door by a Globe and Mail reporter went unanswered.

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Based in Vancouver, Sunny has been with The Globe and Mail since November, 2010. More


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