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West Van targets monster homes
West Vancouver desperately needs strict building bylaws to preserve its charming neighbourhoods, urged Mayor Michael Smith at last Monday’s council meeting.
“There’s a difference in building in West Vancouver than if you’re building in Newton. I don’t have any issue with saying we should create a difference,” he said. “Let’s show some pride in our community.”
The most common concern he hears from the community is about construction of large houses that destroy neighbourhood character.
“We should be renovating some of the bungalows that are fitting in nicely in our neighbourhood instead of just stripping the lots from side to side,” Smith said, adding the construction of “monster houses” is on the rise and the district can’t wait until next year for bylaws to pass.
Asking staff to hurry with their recommendations on housing bulk, he said there is a lot of work to be done on height policies and allowable floor limit.
Monster houses are the “key threat” to neighbourhood character, advised a report to council.
“The increasing size and perceived bulk of new houses in West Vancouver has been of concern to West Vancouver residents for over 30 years,” it read.
Another concern of residents is the design of boulevards, which can be an easy way to disguise a house that doesn’t fit well with the neighbourhood. For the last 10 years, developers have looked to guidelines, but most of council would like to see these rules stepped up to bylaws.
“I have some concerns with the timelines,” said Coun. Mary-Ann Booth, echoing other council members’ insistence that action needs to take place now.
Recognizing staff have other issues to work on, Mayor Smith would like them to place neighbourhood character closer to the top of the list.
“If you want to talk about environmental responsibility, why not tighten up our building regulations so people renovate some of these nice houses, instead of [bulldozing] them over,” he suggested.