After a loud public outcry, the City of Vancouver has decided to rent a vacant house it owns at 3030 Victoria Drive, instead of letting it sit empty.
"I think it's a great first step, but make no mistake, we will continue to fight until the city abandons their plan to purchase and demolish our street," said Pete McCormack, who lives in the same block as the house.
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McCormack is one of many outraged residents in the neighbourhood who only learned of the city's plan to expand John Hendry Park — more commonly known as Trout Lake Park — through media reports.
City council gave in-camera approval to the park board plan to buy and bulldoze the entire eastern side of the 3000 block of Victoria Drive, which backs onto the park and contains eight multiple-family houses and duplexes.
That the house in question — a beautiful heritage home — had been allowed to sit empty since being bought by the city in January of 2016, caused a further outcry, especially against the backdrop of Vancouver's housing and rental crises.
In an about face, the Vancouver Park Board and City of Vancouver now say the house at 3030 Victoria Drive will be offered for lease for a five year period.
"It was never our intention to see this property remain empty for 18 months, and we are now moving to ensure this city property is put to the best public use," read the news release.
"We appreciate the concerns of the community over the potential demolition of housing stock and have determined that the house will be renovated to ensure the safety of future tenants. The park board will engage with the community over any future expansion plans of John Hendry Park."
Fight will go on
McCormack says despite today's announcement, he and his neighbours will continue to fight Trout Lake expansion plans.
"It's a massive public taxpayer expense — probably $20 million — to expand the green space of the park only minimally. And it's against the stated policies of the greenest city plan which is not to expand large parks but to build small parks," he said.
"And it's in contradiction to the 2014 Trout Lake master plan which made no mention of expansion whatsoever and shows our row of houses proudly right there on the map."