My fellow X-Philes may recognise Little Mountain as one of the locations in last year's "I Want to Believe". It was used as the exterior set for the lodgings where Father Joe and other convicted sex offenders stayed, and was described by the character as a "hell hole". In the movie, the darkness and snow did conspire to make some of the scruffier buildings look like a less than desirable residence.
The "hell hole" description is horribly unfair to Little Mountain as a whole though. I cycle past it every day and have always thought that it looked like a really nice community.
See? By the park, mountain view, lots of trees and green spaces, places for kids to play, boarded up windows...
It happened almost overnight. From lively community with children playing, parents barbequeing, and people tending their gardens and otherwise living their lives, to deserted ghost-town, the quiet disturbed only by joggers and geese.
I searched for a news story that day, telling me what had happened - but found nothing. Not that day, and not that week. About a month later I happened to pick up one of Vancouver's free papers, the Metro, and finally found an article about Little Mountain.
With a sinking feeling of inevitability, I learned that the city plans to tear the houses down and build a new condo complex. BUT - not for another two or three years. Even assuming that the development still goes ahead (the Vancouver condo market has taken a big hit recently), why move families out of what are apparently completely structurally sound homes? The former residents allege that they were pressured to move out, and understandably, they are not happy.
The city's policy is just plain crazy. Despite recent dips in the market, buying property here is still way beyond the reach of most people. On two decent salaries, Mr E Man and I could barely afford our own home, a small stucco box in a wee bit of a rough neighbourhood. And the vacancy rate for rentals is ridiculously low. Vancouver has a massive homeless population already, due to being one of the few places in Canada where people can survive a winter on the streets. Addiction and mental health problems run rampant. Why add to the problem?
I hope all the families of Little Mountain found somewhere else to live. And I hope our new mayor, Gregor Robertson, lives up to his campaign promises on tackling homelessness.
The former residents, joined by political activists, have chosen to articulate their feelings through art. It's an amazing expression of their grief for what once was; their wish to reclaim their homes and recreate their community.
Some people have created generalised illustrations of the concept we call "home";
while others have opted for a more personal touch;
and I've noticed more political statements creeping in recently.