Welcome to the 8th Annual Heritage Vancouver Top Ten Endangered Sites. Released during National Heritage Week, our Top Ten list is anticipated by many as the ‘word on the street’ for the city’s threatened heritage resources.
The list includes sites in danger of demolition or serious alteration, or in some case horrible neglect. Each of these sites also illustrates a larger pattern of danger to heritage, based on inaction, conflicting agendas or bureaucratic policies.
Our list of ten cannot begin to do justice to the scores of heritage buildings in harm’s way: the explosive real-estate development market exerts mounting pressure on our vulnerable historic places, and hastily-wrought policy initiatives such as the City of Vancouver’s EcoDensity initiative could do more harm than good.
Meanwhile, opportunities for preservation are missed because the City has frozen density transfers pending a policy review. But the malaise runs deeper: As the City fiddles with density transfers, its outdated heritage incentives are increasingly inadequate to address the economic challenges of heritage rehabilitation. The promised Heritage Register Upgrade gave a glimmer of hope, but it’s now on the back burner indefinitely because funding was diverted to the density transfer review. Many sites may not survive the wait, and others have already bit the dust, most notably the destruction of the Moderne landmark ‘Fido’ building (1948 Colliers Showroom) at 450 West Georgia.
Among repeat sites from last year’s list are Burrard Bridge – and the still-proposed desecration by cantilevered outriggers – and Vancouver’s schools, headed one-by-one for demolition as part of a seismic ‘upgrade’ program. Surprise, surprise, a new host of landmarks are endangered, including the houses of lower Mt. Pleasant, the Dal Grauer Substation, the York Theatre (Alcazar),and Erickson’s Robson Square – which could soon be trapped under a giant clamshell.
Download the Top Ten 2008 press release (PDF, 88k)