Today, Mole Hill supports a relaxed and friendly community in the middle of an ultra-urban environment. West End and Mole Hill residents meet and chat in the laneway. Children play together in back and front yards. Gardeners complain to each other about the weeds and squirrels, and trade tips on care for their tomato plants, in the Community Gardens.
During the summer, the laneway is alive with butterflies and birds; during the fall, pears hang heavy from mature trees, saved through careful planning. Yet it is a quick walk or bus ride to all the amenities of the urbanite – community centres, theatres, libraries, restaurants from a variety of cuisines, groceries gourmet or generic, the Dance Center, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Harbour SFU and UBC Downtown – and anything else that might strike your fancy. And all of this is two blocks away from the ocean, a stunning view of the mountains, the Seawall, and Stanley Park.
There are many aspects to the community envisioned in the Mole Hill project in addition to preserving the heritage and history of the West End of Vancouver. Diversity of community is extremely important to Mole Hill, and so there are many different community needs which MHCHS attempts to address.
There are 170 units on the Hill. There are both market and subsidy suites available, ranging in suite sizes from bachelor to 3 bedrooms. 10 units are dedicated to the wait list of the MacLaren Housing Society, which provides homes for persons living with AIDS. The St. Paul’s Heart Home, which provides housing for heart transplant patients and their families while recuperating from surgery, is directly across from St. Paul’s Hospital. Watson House, with a transition home run by the Coast Mental Health Foundation, provides rooms and support for 8 people learning to reintegrate with the community while managing mental health issues.
On the corner of Thurlow and Comox, the Dr. Peter Centre provides both in and out patient care for people living with AIDS, providing support, meals, and harm reduction services.
Mole Hill was created with environmental sustainability and commitment in mind. All the homes are heated with geo-thermal technologies, which minimize the energy consumption necessary for heating by using the earth’s natural underground warmth through energy-efficient heat exchanging pumps. A focus on energy-efficient lighting and appliances also helps minimize energy use. The resources saved in effectively “recycling” the heritage homes was joined by a commitment to use other recycled materials in construction. As well, the gardens were constructed using recycled bricks and lumber. In the alley, there are four spots dedicated to the Vancouver Co-operative Auto Network, and a number of the residents are Co-op members.
Every Saturday throughout the summer months, a Farmer’s Market offers a selection of locally produced food and other items on Comox Street.
An Executive Director, Property Manager and other staff are responsible for the day to day upkeep and management of Mole Hill.