Arts

Let’s Help the Children Have a House to Live in

So, let’s say you’re 18 or 25 or 30 and need a place to live in the Okanagan. Where are you going to go? Here?

The Rise, Vernon

Sorry, you can’t even afford the stone work.

So, what about here, then?

You can’t even afford the pool. Sorry.

Maybe these houses are too big. Maybe mobility is the issue. The houses above are colonial houses. Our kids need something else. I grew up in the Similkameen within a family of 5 in a 950 square foot house. The size was mandated by the Canadian Government. It was a veteran’s development, and that was the maximum size for getting a mortgage through Veteran’s Affairs. The house is bigger now. The next owners added on. My own first house was 1250 square feet, but only because a previous owner had added a leanto on the side, giving 300 square feet above the 950. My grandparents built their first house in 1930. Here it is:

A Build-It-Yourself-House

It was a two room affair, perhaps 8 feet wide and 20 feet long, much of it built with wood from salvaged shipping palettes, especially the trim, the porch, the steps, the window frames, and the lathes to hold the tarpaper on. It was sided with shakes from the wood lying around the yard. This was in the bush outside of Mission, in the Fraser Valley. Here it is, with my pregnant grandmother, the next year:

Grandma is no longer on the roof!

Over the years, my grandfather completed the house, when he had the time and funds to do so. Now, we build 2500-3500 sf houses and pay for the extra space on credit. The price goes through the roof. I’d love to see an architect design a simple 950 sf house, even 650, that had the pre-designed capacity for expansion. I’d like to see city planners in my city, Vernon BC, approve that, rather than the 5500 square foot, max 5 car garage, max 4 residents, houses they have approved for going up on the hill looking over the lake. I suspect the reason they don’t is that the city makes money off of those things, and they provide lots of instant employment. But what’s the use of employment if neither our kids nor New Canadians (let alone teachers or police officers) can live here? Let’s change our zoning and give the kids a home. OK, maybe they need a hammer, too. And, as Grandma shows above, a book. A porch is, as you can see, optional. Come on, we an do this.

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