Last September Vancouver city council voted unanimously to approve the First Shaughnessy Heritage Conservation Area – Vancouver’s first-ever heritage conservation area.
The goal is to protect from demolition the 300 remaining pre-1940s homes in the First Shaughnessy neighbourhood. The area extends from West 16th Avenue to King Edward Avenue (West 25th) and from Arbutus Street to Oak Street. (Read a previous article summarizing the history of this decision.)
Council adopted the heritage area zoning after a process which included three consultation sessions where hundreds of residents and stakeholders (including REALTORS®) spoke in response to concerns about:
- the more than 200 homes that had been demolished from 2005-2014; and
- the increasing number of requests for demolition permits.
The neighbourhood includes 595 properties, of which 315 were built before 1940. Eighty of these homes are so important to Vancouver's history that they’re listed on the Vancouver Heritage Register.
In January, Jane Pickering, acting general manager of planning and development services, recommended that council amend the First Shaughnessy Heritage Conservation Plan to make the standards and guidelines easier to understand according to a policy report.
On March 9, 2015, council reviewed bylaw amendments and again unanimously approved the First Shaughnessy Conservation Area.
The amendments don’t weaken the protections in the conservation area.
In the First Shaughnessy area parking is to be primarily accommodated in accessory (detached) garages.
If the parking is attached to the home, parking will be allowed below grade only in limited circumstances such as a slope, a difficult site configuration or where there would be a loss of heritage features.
A permit application isn’t required to remove a property from the list of homes with heritage value in First Shaughnessy.
The assessment and determination of whether a property has heritage character or value occurs at the inquiry stage and takes approximately two weeks once all the information is received.
There may be costs for the owner to hire a consultant to prepare a heritage value assessment.
Property with no heritage value
After the assessment, if a property has no heritage character, city staff would initiate the process to remove the property from the list of heritage homes at no cost to the owner.
A request to remove the property is then presented to council at a public hearing. If all agree that the property has no heritage value, the removal is finalized. This process takes two to three months.
Property with heritage value
If the director of planning determines the property has heritage value and the property owner disagrees, then a development permit application must be made and refused by the director of planning before reconsideration by council can be requested. A decision on a development application in First Shaughnessy takes approximately 14-16 weeks. A decision by council to reconsider takes two to three months.
The goal is to conserve the pre-1940s homes in First Shaughnessy. It's council’s view that since it has included the 300 heritage properties within the heritage conservation plan, then it’s only fair that council can remove them from the plan.
Applicants pay the development permit costs and the city is responsible for reporting an owner's reconsideration request to council.
To offset the costs of maintenance, under the new rules, the city will now allow owners to convert their property into multi-unit buildings with secondary suites, or, depending on the lot size, to add coach houses and infill buildings.
Watch these video clips (clip 1 and clip 2) of council’s discussions on the First Shaughnessy Heritage Conservation Area amendments.