The heritage home dilemma: Preserving character or improving density?

The heritage home dilemma: Preserving character or improving density?

The heritage home dilemma: Preserving character or improving density? While intended to help cool down record levels of residential real estate price growth in Vancouver, proposed measures to convince owners of heritage homes to refurbish their homes in exchange for various perks have been met with fierce resistance.
 
The proposals, which will be discussed until January 15, will give owners of these old homes plenty of opportunity to effect wide-ranging changes to their properties (including multiple suites and even a laneway house much larger than currently permitted in the rules), ostensibly to increase density in single-family neighbourhoods and improving overall supply.
 
Much of these properties are situated in what have been called the city’s “character zones”—namely, most of the west side, a section of the central city, a part of the northeast segment, and Point Grey.
 
Bruce Pearson, who owns a bungalow dating from 1921 near Hastings Park, is among those who are expecting to get hit hardest by this dilemma.
 
“It’s a conspiracy against homeowners.” Pearson told The Globe and Mail.
 
The retired machine operator said that his property’s value will plummet when he sells it if the end result of the proposals will prevent a new owner from building larger.
 
“I’m totally against it. It’s a loss of property rights.”
 
The proposals have their fair share of defenders, however. Jane Heyman, who is facing the prospect of having to sell her 1917 home in Douglas Park with her husband (both are now retired), said that the enticements would be helpful for owners in predicaments similar to hers.
 
“We love our area, I love the character of it,” Heyman said. “[But] we’re facing the reality that someone will tear it down.”
 
Official figures revealed that demolitions have increased dramatically by 80 per cent from 2009 to 2015. Flattening of homes from the pre-1940 era has also grown by 73 per cent, with 2,310 of these houses destroyed between 2009 and July 2016.


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