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Statement regarding 1550 West 29 Avenue

August 11 2017

City Hall's 12th Avenue entrance

City staff have met with the owners on many occasions to try and find a solution to the issues relating to 1550 West 29th Avenue but are limited as to the action they can take due to this case dating back to June 2013 before council approved the Heritage Action Plan. 

Heritage planners from the City first met with the owners and their designer to discuss plans to demolish the property in June 2013, before council approved the Heritage Action Plan, and the owners were told that they could pursue an application as long as no objections were raised during the neighbourhood notification period.

The City sent out notifications in 2015 but no-one responded therefore conditional approval was granted in April 2015.

In May 2016, after a high number of local residents contacted the City about 1550 West 29th, Council approved a temporary heritage protection order to prevent it being knocked down and allow time for the City to conduct a heritage and character assessment which led to a Statement of Significance being issued.

Efforts made to retain the house

Since May 2016, City staff have met with the owners and their designer on numerous occasions to try and find a way to retain the house.

Incentives such as allowing increasing the square footage of the house or the addition of infill housing were proposed and in March the owners applied to retain portions of the home and add to it but they were advised that more retention would be needed in order for the application to be approved.

A new submission was made in May with a small increase in retention but, after consultation with the Vancouver Heritage Commission, staff decided that the level of proposed retention was not sufficient.

Shortly after that decision, the owners withdrew their retention application and advised the City that they wanted to revert back to the original plan to replace the building.

The City has tried to reach out again to the owners but they have told us they still want to proceed with their proposal for a new building.

The property could be a Heritage A building

The property has heritage value and could be a Heritage A building on the Register but because of the ongoing discussions it has not been added.

As they’re proceeding under existing regulations and permits granted in 2013, adding it to the register would not change what the City is able to do in this situation. 

The City is committed to preserving heritage homes

Maintaining and protecting heritage resources can be challenging as there are many pressures on retention of both commercial and residential buildings in Vancouver, including cost and logistics but the City is committed to preserving heritage homes through the Heritage Action Plan.

Since its approval in 2013, progress has been made on several key areas including expediting smaller heritage retention projects, introducing incentives such as infill and the opportunity to increase floor area, and requiring the reuse and recycling of materials from demolished homes.

More significant changes have also been achieved, most notably the designation of the First Shaughnessy District as the City’s first Heritage Conservation Area in 2015.

The City has tools and incentives in place, such as Heritage Revitalization Agreements, to protect some heritage buildings but we’re looking for ways to improve and update how our tools and policies can help protect significant heritage resources throughout Vancouver. 

Staff continue to work on the Heritage Action Plan and is examining different ways to encourage the retention of character homes and other heritage assets in Vancouver.

The City will continue to take a balanced approach in working to prevent the demolition of historic homes while providing new opportunities to add new housing opportunities and modest density where appropriate.