A friend showed me this site while we were out for a walk on a Monday afternoon exactly 3 months ago, but I didn’t get back there to take photos and walk through the space by myself until today. It’s only a short walk from my house but being new to the city, I had never heard of it. I was both intrigued and disappointed by what I saw.
The Little Mounting Housing Project was built in the mid-1950s and was once home to 570 people in 224 one- two and three bedroom units. It now sits mostly empty and boarded up, with only a few residents remaining. The site itself is somewhat surreal. With over 1,700 people living on the streets and in shelters in Vancouver, you’d think this would be an ideal means to provide a partial solution to the social housing problem.
Yes, I realize there are all kinds of politics at play here, but if Toronto can redevelop Regent Park into a mixed-use, mixed-income residential development, why can’t the same be done with Little Mountain? Alas, it is too late to change what is already destined to happen and the site will be cleared to make way for new development or sit vacant for some time while the public consultation process takes place.
What struck me most about this place was the fact that even though the majority of the units have been vacated and boarded up, the grounds are maintained and the lawn had been freshly mown. The buildings have also become canvasses for artists and residents, many of whom are long gone. Relocated to who knows where? However, there appear to be some inhabitants holding on to their homes for as long as they can.
As I walked through this eerie abandoned site I noticed that not all of the windows are boarded up. There are a few scattered houses with drapes and blinds in the windows instead of boards; blooming, well-maintained plants adorn some of these window sills and a couple of the balconies have signs of life. There was one place near the office where the door was open and I could clearly hear people’s voices, carrying on as if it was just another normal day in a normal Vancouver home.