Six kids, to be exact.
The Vancouver Courier profiles the Spino family — 2 parents and 6 kids who live in a 3-bedroom condo in downtown Vancouver. It’s an interesting read, as well as a good reminder that, for some families, downtown living makes a lot of sense. Says the pater familias:
“I don’t see the need for having rooms in houses that you don’t use. I don’t see why you have two spare bedrooms for visitors that you just use to store boxes. I don’t think that’s efficient. I don’t think that’s a responsible way to live…You don’t need that space. You don’t need skis in the garage or a snowmobile somewhere and stuff in the attic-all that consumerism collecting. I don’t think we’re occupying a lot of space here. This high-density living is good for the city. It’s good for the environment. It’s good for the children-it’s a fantastic way to live.”
I’m really not sure why city living doesn’t have a better reputation among enviros. I mean, it seems like one of the best things you can do for the planet is to move to a place where a) you don’t have to drive much, b) your physical footprint is small c) your living space is small enough that it doesn’t take much to heat, cool, or light, and d) you don’t have the space to store — and not much incentive to buy — a bunch of crap. I mean, the Spinos have six kids — but they probably use a lot less energy, and have less impact on the climate, than my family of 2 adults and 2 kids in a single-family detached home.
Still, it seems like a common instinct is that to live green, you have to surround yourself with a lot of greenery. And sure, a back-to-the-land impulse is fine, as far as it goes; but if it means 5-acre lots and plenty of driving, then I’d guess that city dwellers are probably the ones living lighter on the earth.
And one thing that the article doesn’t mention is that, because the Spinos probably drive less, and walk more, than most comparable suburban families, their neighborhood could actually be good for their health. Residents of compact, transit- and pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods tend to suffer fewer fatal car crashes (the leading killer of children!), walk more for transportation, and have lower rates of obesity than folks in sprawling suburbs. One juicy stat: downtown Vancouver has lowest risk of fatal car crashes of any part of B.C., with a fatal car crash rate that’s about one-third the province-wide average.