We recently had the pleasure of watching our neighbour’s house being demolished.
It has been a long process. The tenants were renovicted back in November and for a while, I doubted if the owners really would tear it down because nothing seemed to be happening. Prior tenants had been evicted in the past on the premise of a sale or renovation but no visible changes to the house were made and then new tenants were brought in for presumably higher rental prices. I raged “They’ve done it again!!” to anyone who would listen feeling that the owners I’ve never met embody everything that is wrong with Vancouver’s housing and rental system.
But my judgement was hasty. This time they were as good as their word and it became evident that they were dismantling the house from the inside out. First, an asbestos inspector came in a subtly marked car followed by a large group of men with cigarettes and McDonald’s coffee who seemed to be on a long coffee break taking turns doing work inside. Every other day there was a miscellany of people (official or unofficial – I couldn’t say) circling the property salvaging what could be salvaged. Then there was the shirtless de-roofer who offered to hire my four-year-old to rip shingles off the roof because “It’s impossible to find good help these days!”
Eventually, the progress became undeniable from the pile of debris covering every inch of the back yard. After looking at the wreckage for a couple weeks and imagining what might be hiding beneath it, we were quite relieved to see the CAT truck arrive to finish the job.
Finally, in the early hours of the first sunny day in months, the excavator began his task.
We had friends visiting from out of town so we all (4 toddlers and 4 adults) lined up on the back porch steps to watch and then removed ourselves to watch from inside after we started wondering what might be floating in the air. It was quite a thing to behold. Seeing that he had an audience, the operator put on quite a show for us, toppling the chimney in one fell swoop and sprinkling what was left in the water heater over the fragmented back-half of the house.
After two days of crashing and crushing, moving and digging, lifting, crunching, scooping all that remained was a modest-sized lot of dirt worth 1.4 million dollars (approximate) and two abandoned bicycles mercifully spared from the metal beast.
It was a bittersweet experience for me. In days past, I had ill-advisedly allowed myself to imagine what it would be like to live in the cute little house next to my parents’ which was admittedly run-down but still full of personality and potential. It had the most amazing covered patio with a working outdoor fireplace and there were these adorable little alcoves beside the front stairs where our kids could have played. But alas, it was not meant to be. Gone are the days of the quaint fixer-upper starter home (in Vancouver, at least).
But I’m not bitter. I hope I don’t sound bitter. It was sad, but also quite satisfying to see that flight of fancy totally crushed and cleared. Sometimes it’s nice to see in black and white what is and isn’t an option. And really, who wants life to turn out exactly as imagined anyways?