The duplex house, originally a single family dwelling, was built in 1905 by James G. Chalmers. It replaced an earlier dwelling built on the same property in 1894. The 1905 house was the first in the City to be constructed with cast cement blocks onsite, which makes it now the oldest example of a cement/concrete block residence in Vancouver.
James G. Chalmers is listed as the owner on a building permit issued June 4, 1912 for a three-story brick apartment to be constructed adjacent to his house on the same property. This brick apartment building was constructed in 1912 by Edward J. Ryan of E.J. Ryan Construction Company and was designed by the architectural firm of Perry & Nicolais (1911-13) the same firm that designed the Sun Ah Hotel on East Pender Street. By the end of construction, in late 1912, the proprietor was named as Edward J. Ryan and thus the building was first known as Ryan Court. Ryan resided briefly at Ryan Court ca. 1915. After serving with the 11th Regiment Irish Fusiliers of Canada; Ryan was awarded a DSO (Distinguished Service Order) for his service. By 1920, Ryan resumed his construction business in Vancouver. His company would go on to construct many iconic heritage buildings in Vancouver, including the Marine Building and the Hotel Vancouver.
The brick apartment building and the duplex that is now 2617 and 2619 Ontario Street, both underwent considerable renovations in 1936. This was in part due to damage caused by a large fire, which destroyed the church across the street. It was at that time that the apartment building was renamed View Court, for when the ruins of the church were cleared away; all the suites on the north side of the building had a magnificent view of the city. Around 1949, the original single-family house was converted into a duplex. In 1981, the residents of View Court successfully carried out plans to reorganize from a private to a resident owned co-operative. View Court Housing Co-operative acquired the adjacent duplex at 2617 and 2619 Ontario St., adding two 2-bedroom suites to the co-op’s already existing 30 units.
About our Housing Co-op
View Court comprises 32 suites in two characterful buildings located at 12 West Tenth Avenue in Vancouver. Suites are various sizes: several sizes of bachelors (see photos) and one-bedroom suites (see floor plan http://viewcourt.vcn.bc.ca/uploads/lu/Op/luOprUH82g4Hr122wscIPA/View_Court_Ground_Floor_plan.JPG ), and two two-bedroom suites in the house next door to the main building.
View Court is owned and operated by its membership. Annual budgets, housing charges, and general policies and procedures are established by twice-yearly general meetings of the membership, and carried out by the Board of Directors and three committees: Finance, Maintenance, and Membership. Facilities include a very attractive backyard with a garden (including a small number of member-managed vegetable plots); laundry machines; a meeting area; a secure street level bike room; and secure storage lockers. Member groups in the co-op are actively involved in gardening, recycling, sharing a wireless network and some bulk food purchases. Housing charges are typically below market rents for comparable commercial rental housing.
Most suites are fairly small and occupied by individuals rather than families. However, despite people often moving out when they choose to live with a partner or start a family, the membership is very stable with two or three moves a year. In situations where you wish to have a partner move in with you after being accepted as a full member, there are no guarantees that they will be accepted as an associate member.
Housing charges are low and this area of Mount Pleasant has become very fashionable. The intersection of 10th and Ontario has changed significantly since the co-op was formed. Then the building was in disrepair and the neighbourhood was not much better. Now in 2008, young professional couples have flocked to the area to set up home. There has been rapid condo development and this is having a huge impact on the streetscape, especially along the main street corridor. Mount Pleasant is experiencing another Vancouver case of coffee bar led economic development with coffee shops being quickly followed by small quality restaurants then home decoration and fitting showrooms.
View Court lies on the confluence of two of the most important cycle routes in the city. 10th Avenue allows easy cycling from Victoria to Macdonald with few hills and only one full traffic light. Ontario provides the most westerly access to downtown without having to navigate one of Vancouver’s bicycle-unfriendly bridges. Instead Ontario connects directly to the seawall cycle route that will take you either way around False Creek or further. For cyclists on their last gasp having made a dash for the Broadway traffic light heading South and uphill, there is even a public water fountain on the South side of the junction! For all the cycle friendliness, parking is still an issue near the co-op. However, the View Court car, part of Vancouver’s Co-operative Auto Network (CAN), is located outside the co-op building on 10th for the use of CAN members.