[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hile the skyline of Burlington continues to grow vertically with the addition of high-rise condos, monster homes are appearing around the city on large lots formerly occupied by bungalows.
Realtor Leslie Bullock, a former Burlington councillor, said some homes on Sunset Road in the west end of the city were built on war vet lots after the Second World War and are inadequate for today’s families. They might be worth between $400,000 and $500,000, but people are tearing them down and building homes that are worth in excess of $1 million.
“Unless they’re of heritage quality, physically moving a house is very expensive,” she said. “And there are so many hydro wires crossing Plains Road.
“In the 1920s and 1930s a lot of homes were relocated, but now it’s just a whole lot easier to tear them down and build again.”
Bullock says Toronto people see land in this area as being very inexpensive.
“In my mind, some of them are perfectly good houses, but they’re more difficult to renovate.
Other homes built in the 1950s, she said, have structural issues with the foundation.
“If they have only 10-block foundations, they’re not deep enough to do something with,” she said.
Victor and Jeff Bayani, brothers who operate New World Cycle on Plains Road E., grew up on Hendrie Ave. and went to Aldershot high school. They purchased small homes side-by-side on Long Drive, houses that were 50 years old, had no insulation and had paint peeling off the walls.
[box type=”info” ]Despite being in relatively good shape, many wartime houses are being demolished to make way for bigger, more expensive homes[/box]
So they demolished them and built much larger homes.
“We’re not speculators,” Victor said. “We’re people who want to re-invest in the community. We wanted to raise our families in Aldershot.”
The Bayanis did not ask for any variances. But they did take the time to knock on the doors of their neighbors and ask for their input on how the new houses should be designed.
“All the homes on Long Drive have gone up in price to about $750,000,” Victor said. “Now everybody has a bin in front of their house renovating.”
Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven said the City has a bylaw limiting the size of houses to no more than 25 per cent of a lot. But two years ago it was altered to say that at the site plan stage a public meeting can be held if neighbors don’t agree with the plan.
In Aldershot that has happened on Gorton Ave. and Northland Ave.
A homeowner also can apply to the committee of adjustment for a variance to have their new home cover more than 25 per cent of the lot.
“Neighbors sometimes feel a larger home is somewhat of an intrusion,” Craven said. “
“I’ve seen examples of perfectly good homes being torn down simply because they’re too small,” Craven said.
Like other municipalities across Ontario, Burlington must comply with the provincial plan, which calls for Halton to double in population and by 2031.
Bullock said the City of Burlington and the Province are all for severing big lots because intensification is mandated.
In 2008 developer Adam Gall told council Aldershot is better suited to creating small lots by dividing larger ones. He said that way no new infrastructure is needed and Burlington gets the increase in residents it requires more quickly
Seven years ago realtor Reg Pilling, who lives on Strathcona Dr. in Ward 4, expressed concern about the size of a new home being built to replace a partially demolished bungalow at the corner of Strathcona and Spruce Ave.
However, today Pilling says it hasn’t resulted in anything detrimental to the neighborhood.
“It probably has affected property values in the area in a positive way,” he said. “And it hasn’t led to a proliferation of mega homes in the immediate neighborhood.”
Pilling said that in the majority of cases, where bungalows were replaced in one of Burlington’s most expensive areas, the homes were in relatively good shape.
“I hate waste,” he said.
Still, Pilling said he’s not interested in seeing the City introduce even more stringent regulations on larger homes.
“I don’t like big government,” he said. “I think I can look after myself.