British Columbia

Vancouver's First Shaughnessy heritage conservation plan sparks debate

Residents of one of Vancouver's wealthiest neighbourhoods, First Shaughnessy, are getting another chance to weigh in on the future of their neighbourhood.

The wealthy neighbourhood is home to many of the city's heritage-listed estates

The heart of the First Shaughnessy neighbourhood is The Crescent, a circular street with green space in the centre. (Google Maps)

Residents of one of Vancouver's wealthiest neighbourhoods — First Shaughnessy — are getting another chance to weigh in on the future of their neighbourhood.

The City of Vancouver held another public hearing last night about its proposal to turn the area into the city's first heritage conservation area.

More than 50 people were signed up to speak for or against the proposal, including Anne Guthrie-Warman, who grew up in First Shaughnessy and said a heritage designation is a great way to preserve the neighbourhood's history and character.

"Its an important first step in a city that hasn't had any heritage designation. We're way behind Canada and the rest of British Columbia," said Guthrie-Warman.

A recent report to council said the new zoning would help stop the demolition of heritage homes in the neighbourhood and the construction of new homes that don't match the existing scale and character.

The First Shaughnessy neighbourhood — sometimes referred to as Old Shaughnessy — is bordered by Oak Street, West 16th Avenue, Arbutus Street and West King Edward Avenue.

The neighbourbood was established by Canadian Pacific Railway in 1907 as an alternative to the city's elite downtown West End. Of the 595 houses in the area, 317 of which were built before 1940, 80 are listed on the Vancouver heritage register.

No tear-downs for now

Robert Angus, who owns one of them, told the meeting the proposal is flawed and will make it hard for homeowners to sell their properties in the future.

A new Heritage Conservation District designation from the City of Vancouver would restrict tear downs and density in the First Shaughnessy neighbourhood. (Heritage Vancouver)

"These houses were never built to last centuries. It's a hundred years old, doesn't meet present day energy standards. Someone who wants to buy a house for millions of dollars can buy a house without all these restrictions," said Angus.

Councillors and the public also discussed an updated bylaw that would give the city the power to say no to any tear downs or demolitions of the 317 homes in the area that were built before 1940.

The city already has an advisory design panel and design guidelines intended to preserve the character of the neighbourhood. The new plan is intended to replace the existing guidelines. In July, Vancouver council extended a moratorium on the demolition of homes in the neighbourhood.

City Councillor George Affleck said later because all the speakers on the list had a chance to speak Tuesday, there won't be another hearing Friday as previously planned. Affleck says the decision on the rezoning is expected Sept 29.

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