Row Housing in Nanaimo?

I hear that the city of Nanaimo is thinking about allowing the construction of row housing in certain areas. In case you’re not sure exactly what row housing is, imagine a street of houses where there is no yard between the houses and they each share a common wall with their neighbour on each side.

I can hear the naysayers already. “But they’re so cramped looking, people living in them will hear their neighbours all the time and they’ll probably look all cookie cutter when they’re done. I don’t want this in my town.”

To such people I say the following points:

-Condos, townhomes and other kinds of strata exist all over Nanaimo. They provide a lower cost alternative to houses and for many people not having a yard is a benefit, not a problem. Some people don’t have the time, the interest, and in the case of the handicapped or elderly, the ability to maintain a garden.

-I think for most people row housing would be preferable to condos as there is no strata fee/ common property to maintain. Not being part of a strata means having so much more freedom in regard to what you do with your home. (Having said that, it wouldn’t surprise me if some of these row homes were built as strata because some people would rather pay the fee than look after things themselves.)

-From what I hear from people who live in newer side by side duplexes, you don’t usually hear much from you neighbours as soundproofing design has improved a lot of the years.

-Such types of housing are more affordable. The cost of real estate compared to the average income has skyrocketed over the years/decades. Making housing that is affordable is crucial for allowing people to buy their first place while they are as young as possible. This, in turn, will allow for an easier financial life in the long term if they play their cards right.

-As for the concern about cookie cutters… well I might be throwing a rock in the pond with this comment but it has been my observation that some of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Nanaimo are practically this way.  In fact, some row housing is very beautiful. If you do a google image search for row housing you’ll see that many of the ones built in old fashioned styles are actually quite beautiful. Here is a photo of a row of houses that are a well known landmark of San Fransisco in case you didn’t recognize it.

Nanaimo’s  recently updated official community plan involves making a denser population of the next ten years. Which is something I personally applaud, as although I love space, I think it’s important to reduce the need for people to drive everywhere and develop more parts of the city where you don’t feel the need to have a car to get what you need done, done. I’ve lived in places like that and have found that in addition to convenience, it creates greater sense of community in your own area.

Ryan Coffey

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