What elements of a ‘Heritage’ property should be prioritized for the sake of preservation – especially an older suburban one? Is it the structure itself? The grounds and setting? The landscaping? Is it the whole package, to be preserved in its entirely or considered “lost”?
The North Shore News reports on a proposal to subdivide an existing Heritage property at 360 Windsor Avenue into two lots. The subdivision would allow the original 1913 structure (shown below on the left) to be kept while selling off the east side of the property for new development.

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The existing structure (left) and possible new structure (right) – North Shore News

The current lot’s owner, Mr. Donato D’imici, claims his options are either to subdivide the property or sell it off entirely to developers, who would then surely demolish the structure and by right put up a 5,900 ft sq building. The subdivision compromise, in his opinion, retains the existing building and is the lesser of two evils.
Of course not everyone agrees, with one neighbour railing against the subdivision as a threat to “imperil” the neighbourhood with density. Likely there was a lot of this apocalyptic kind of talk at the Council hearing. As recently posted in PT, this ‘end is nigh’ sentiment around the topic of density, whether in the form of a townhouse or a carriage house, comes from a place of real and hysterical fear.
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The neighbourhood – 360 Windsor on north side, just to the right of centre

Whether your inclination is to dismiss or empathize with this fear, it should still be acknowledged that the suffering is real. But as you can see from this Google aerial, the rest of the neighbours are clearly not burdened by undervalued structures on their overvalued lots. Being right is easy when it’s not your decision to make.
So what’s more important? The building or the lot? Preserving the pastoral feel of a street where it still exists, or retaining that cute little house you couldn’t pay a contractor to build anymore? Is this a reasonable compromise or a terrible precedent?

Comments

  1. Save the heritage house. I also suspect the neighbours support road widening and new roads through other neighbourhoods so they are not stuck in North Shore traffic, while their own leafy neighbourhood should remain entirely unchanged – not even one house added.
    If the heritage house can’t be saved because of neighbour’s opposition, maybe nothing should be changed in other neighbourhoods either. No new wider roads, bridges, interchanges, town houses, apartment buildings.

  2. When did respect for design, character, quality construction, preservation of heritage and home-ownership rights become a four-letter word. What a beautiful property. How about turning it into a museum, community centre or social housing option? Glad to see some evidence that North Vancouver has public consultation about major infrastructure and neighbourhood changes that inpact all the residents. To ensure that this happens in Vancouver as well, attend the RALLY AGAINST VANCOUVER CITY HALL WASTAGE OF TAXPAYER MONEY AND LACK OF CONSULTATION; THE RALLY IS TOMORROW, SUNDAY, AT 11:00 AM, AT KITS BEACH (YEW STREET). SEE YOU THERE.

    1. You mean the rally against widening the sidewalk to connect the seawall with comfortable walking infrastructure so that Pt Grey Rd residents can keep encroaching on public land and don’t have to suffer through more regular Vancouverites walking by their houses?
      Interesting to see that “home-ownership rights” are important to you in that context. Sadly I am not so sure everyone understands the difference between private property and public property that they encroach on and treat as if it was theirs.
      I take it you did not go to one of the consultation meetings for the sidewalk widening. I did.

      1. Jens,
        The encroachments that you speak of are all over the city on most city streets, likely in front of your house. Throughout the city, people have extended their frontages, planted trees and shrubbery for privacy and usually maintain that green space as their own expense. So, Point Grey Road is no different from the majority of city streets in that respect, and if you have no problem with the City paving over existing green space in the setbacks of Point Grey Road to build an oxymoronic “inland seawall”, then you have no problem with the City doing the same thing everywhere else in the City, because this project will set a precedent. Fact: South side residents of Point Grey Road were not told about or invited to the only 3 open houses by City engineers for supposed “consultation” on Phase 2 of the project, which is discrimination against immediately and daily affected residents of the road. Fact: I attended all three of the open houses, and residents by vast majority at those meetings opposed Phase 2 for reasons of safety, misrepresentation, and lack of consultation; fact: City engineers did not change their design at all desptie residents’ specific and well-articulated concerns.
        Further, my advocating for people to attend the Rally tomorrow, Sunday, June 26, 2016, at 11:00 AM at the foot of Yew Street (Kits Beach) is not about Point Grey Road specifically; this rally involves many neighbourhoods and many neighbourhood associations city-wide; it is a general rejection of City Council proceeding with numerous pet projects (see Gordon Clark’s June 23, 2016 article that lists some of these developments) that have had little or no consultation and are already or going to be unsafe. This rally is a call out to citizens to be aware that there is corruption within City Hall, and taxpayer dollars are being misused by the millions. Perhaps you do not care about this; I suggest you show up at the rally, or watch it on TV, and you will see just how many other citizens DO care.

        1. “if you have no problem with the City paving over existing green space in the setbacks of Point Grey Road to build an oxymoronic “inland seawall”, then you have no problem with the City doing the same thing everywhere else in the City, because this project will set a precedent.”
          What precedent? The city is the owner of the land, they can do what they want. I’m more scared of the precedent that says if you garden a piece of public land, causing a disturbance to others and cost to public taxpayers, then you somehow are entitled to ownership of that land. That would be absurd.
          And if the city needs to widen sidewalks in any other part of town to help improve safety, then of course I’d support it. I expect if this situation existed in any other part of town it would have already happened.

    2. It’s still private property; somebody’s home. You can’t just snap your fingers and make it a “community centre” to keep it forever preserved in amber. The District is not going to purchase it. Subdivide or sell. These are the choices as the owner understands them.

  3. The proposal is just plain common sense. The owner is very lucky to have a house offset to one side of the large property to accommodate the new house. Moving the house to one side would have to be an option if the house occupied the centre of the lot instead, but that cost would boost the list price of the new suites and house. So would the cost of dismantling the house and recycling the materials if a moratorium on demolition was enacted.
    Kudos to the owners for saving their heritage house, and for addressing using the limited regional land supply more efficaciously, a supply that increasingly encumbers the finite supply with each passing year with changing demographics.

  4. Looks like North Van District council won’t allow lot subdivision in return for preserving heritage house.

    1. I saw, just this morning. I guess Council found their answers to the questions at the front of the post.

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