November 2, 2008
The virtues of urban density have been much bandied about lately; tight living has economic and environmental benefits, encourages the obese to walk, and gets our politicians building finer public amenities. These truths, however, won’t alter Dunbar-Southlands’ stoically capacious layout. The neighbourhood’s population grows seven-and-a-half times more slowly than that of Vancouver as a whole. There are eight-and-a-half dwellings for each hectare here, a third of the city’s average density. No structure is higher than four storeys and the streets are idyllically canopied by chestnut, cherry, and willow trees.
Dunbar-Southlands is really two micro-hoods that brush each other. The relatively modest Dunbar gives way to more generously proportioned lanes as one moves south past 33rd Avenue. Then, around 43rd, lots grow pregnant (upward of half an acre each); and, finally, at Southwest Marine, the neighbourhood unfolds into the mansions, farmsteads, and nurseries that typify the Southlands. Even the light turns pastoral. A mere 15 minutes from the red-faced bustle of downtown, anti-density spreads like a duvet of manicured lawns. All told, Dunbar-Southlands delivers a beguiling (if privileged) riposte to the arguments for vertical living.