British Columbia

Shaughnessy heritage mansion damaged by fire must be repaired, says city

The mansion on Angus Drive caught fire in October and is now being investigated as arson. Inspectors examined the home and say it can be saved. The City of Vancouver says any changes must respect the building's heritage.

City inspector has determined heritage home is salvageable after suspected arson

Fire damaged the home on Oct. 22, 2017. (Susana da Silva/CBC)

Four months after a fire broke out at a Tudor-style mansion on Angus Drive in Shaughnessy, its roof is a charred, gaping hole, covered only by a light dusting of snow, even though the owner has been ordered by the City of Vancouver to cover it to prevent further weather damage.

The order comes after a structural engineer representing the property owner and a City of Vancouver inspector determined the home could be salvaged.

And since the mansion, last assessed at $14.2 million, falls under the First Shaughnessy Heritage Conservation Area, the city says the owner's next moves with the property are restricted.

In a statement, it says the owner would have to apply for a special permit which could be refused if the plan would demolish or significantly alter the protected heritage building.

The heritage home was built in 1913. (Susana da Silva/CBC)

And that's good news, according to historian and author Michael Kluckner.

"It is a unique area in Canada, particularly in Western Canada — a subdivision for very wealthy people in a period of incredible prosperity 110 years ago," Kluckner said.

"With the quality of houses and consistency of the architecture and landscape, it is really a historic heritage area."

The city says it ordered the home covered Nov. 1 to prevent further damage, but the owner requested extensions, saying it would need more time because of the extent of the damage and in order to address WorkSafeBC requirements.

The latest city deadline passed Feb.16.

The city says it is looking at its options which include taking them to court which could result in a fine.

The roof sustained most of the damage. (Susana da Silva/CBC)

Fire deemed suspicious

According to neighbours, the home had already been vacant for a number of years when the fire started around 3 a.m. on Oct. 22.

The Vancouver Fire Department has passed the file on to police.

"There were some delays, because the structure was unstable, and we needed to get a structural engineer in and render the roof stable, before we could get engineers in and gather more evidence," said Jonathan Gormick with Vancouver Fire and Rescue.

"They have concluded the fire was maliciously set, that is purposely set."

Deputy Chief Brian Godlonton looks on as crews fight a three-alarm blaze in Shaughnessy. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

VPD says it is investigating, but no arrests have been made.

Owner has made headlines before

The owner of the property is Chinese developer Miaofei Pan.

Pan previously made headlines in 2016 for hosting a fundraiser with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at another mansion he owns in West Vancouver. He was also embroiled in a defamation lawsuit against a Chinese blogger.

Kluckner believes it is important the city enforces the bylaws enacted in 2015 to protect that area of Shaughnessy —a measure he says was necessary after owners and developers pushed the boundaries of what was allowed.

"It is just this idea that you can build new [faux] heritage, and there are people who want heritage buildings to be as new as they possibly can be," Kluckner said. 

"It is fake stuff. The City of Vancouver doesn't want any part of."