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More home demolitions than ever for Richmond

More home demolitions than ever for Richmond

July was a record-breaking month for single-family home demolitions in Richmond, and at least two city councillors are split on why that may be.

Photograph by: Richmond News , ...

METRO VANCOUVER — July was a record-breaking month for single-family home demolitions in Richmond, and at least two city councillors are split on why that may be.

Coun. Carol Day said she is sure the spike in demolitions is a result of a delay in a decision to amend residential zoning bylaws, as well as the lengthy — and now highly publicized — process to terminate land-use contracts.

“I knew this was going to happen. Everyone said, ‘Oh no, we won’t see a spike.’ So this next six months is critical,” said Day, referring to the early termination process for the old, provincial contracts which allow larger homes on smaller lots relative to what the city’s residential zoning bylaws dictate.

Day also said the delay to amend those bylaws, in order to implement greater setbacks and more limitations to the volume of newly built homes, is another reason for the spike.

“If I was a builder, I would be fast-tracking anything, too,” she said.

In July developers were given the green light by the City of Richmond 65 times to demolish a single-family home.

The number marks a monthly record since 2006, when the data began to be posted online by the city.

Since January 2009 — the last time zoning bylaws changed (to allow higher homes) — the monthly average has been 29.

As well, 2015 is on pace to be a record year for home demolitions. So far, 287 homes have met their fate. If the trend continues, 492 will be torn down by January. The annual average since 2009 is 351 homes. In 2011, 473 homes were demolished.

If Day is correct about the push to build more, the city may be looking at an even greater rush of development in single-family neighbourhoods granted the process to fully extinguish land-use contracts on 4,000-plus homes could take one to two years, according to deputy city manager Joe Erceg, who has noted there will likely be appeals.

A decision to amend the city’s residential zoning bylaws may be completed as early as late September following a Sept. 8 public hearing on tentatively approved changes to home setbacks (space between homes and property lines).

The hearing takes place at Richmond City Hall and the public is welcome to comment on city council’s decision in July, which saw a 7-2 vote against the recommendations of city planners, who sought to limit ceiling heights and setbacks in a greater manner.

Meanwhile, Coun. Bill McNulty wasn’t convinced about the July spike being related to impending changes to bylaws.

“I do not think the two are correlated and I don’t think any of the demolitions were held up due to the bylaw. We do business as usual,” he said.

The News asked the City of Richmond if the spike could be attributed to anything in particular, such as the delay in amendments to the bylaw.

City spokesman Ted Townsend said the spike was “just a reflection of busy development,” and that “our numbers are up in all categories.”

Homebuilder and real estate agent Raman Kooner said there are likely many factors to the spike.

“It’s an assumption, but I think there’s a bunch of people trying to push things through,” he said.

However, “with the market where it’s at — and I don’t have the stats before me to back this up — it’s probably been the highest it’s been for some time.”

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver recently reported an 11 per cent rise in home prices in July.

Homebuilder Ivan Krpan added the spike is a result of the market and added the proposed changes to residential zoning bylaws are minor.

“There are few lots available in the market right now,” said Krpan, noting builders are earnestly seeking old homes for rebuilds.


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