Chilliwack has lost even more heritage homes and others have been sold, waiting to be demolished, since this article was first published elsewhere:
Copyright By FloraBreenRobison
This home on Spadina Avenue is next door to a new set of condos. notice the condos took every space available
Heritage Homes Have Character and Should Be Saved
I understand the need for progress, the need to house an increasing population, the rise in population in Chilliwack just like everywhere else. People love to retire here. We have between 80,000 and 90,000 people living here when you include everyone, not just registered voters. Either you build on the mountain, taking down all the trees in the venture, or you build tall buildings. Either way, people have to live somewhere. Personally, I would rather have tall buildings than lose the trees on the mountain. Trees are beautiful, necessary, and it is not all that safe to live in homes closely built together if there is a fire or other disaster.
For those of you who have been here to the Fraser Valley and wonder what I mean by tall buildings, I’m just using the term to refer to city apartments and condos in general. Chilliwack does not actually have tall dwellings, just tall hotels. Well, one hotel is tall. Our apartment buildings and condo buildings have a law stating they aren’t supposed to be more than four stories. That may change some day. Already, the retirement home next door to me is five stories high. I live on the fourth floor of my building, so actually this helps keep my place cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than before the building existed-it was just a parking lot when I moved into my condo.
The space for apartment buildings and condo buildings has to come from somewhere. I don’t agree with the city just tearing down every type of house imaginable. I don’t really mind if houses from the 1970s found all along First Avenue and other streets are being torn down. They all look the same but for being painted different colours. However, I am saddened and resentful of the practice of tearing down Heritage Homes. These are houses 150 years old or more and all of them look different, not just in the colour of their paint. Their design, size, and number of rooms have their own character and are beautiful to behold. Generations have lived there, grown there, and died there.
If you want to see a large number of Heritage Homes in Chilliwack on one street alone, Spadina Avenue is the place. Located in Downtown Chilliwack near but before Four Corners, you see a wide variety of houses before reaching the apartment buildings everywhere downtown. I have included some of the photographs I took of houses on the street that are still standing. I suggest that you hurry, though. The owners are offered such large amounts for their property it is not surprising to see a this house for sale sign on several of them. Someone else may be photographing them already. I have no idea. In case this isn’t happening, I am trying to photograph all of them so that there is a record of them for the city to have for the time when none of them are left. That time will come. It has to come.
Looking at the home in the top photograph makes me feel claustrophobic. The feeling is worse in person. I have a view of my neighbours too, but my view comes from across the street on one side and across an alley on the other-I have breathing room in my corner condo. This family does not have that luxury.
Heritage Homes have value beyond the fact that they are a dwelling place. It is too bad that the City of Chilliwack doesn’t consider the history of the city worth saving. There are plenty of younger homes that could be torn down in the way of progress.