Demolition permits were issued for four First Shaughnessy heritage houses in 2003. This is the only residential character area identified by the City, and yet 42 A and B listed heritage houses have been lost in the last 11 years alone.
Aggressive developers, architects and owners have learned that, if they fight their way through the City’s Planning Department and Advisory Design Panel, the City neither has any convincing incentives to offer owners to retain these homes nor has the power to prevent demolition.
A new variation on “Demolition by Neglect” developed this year — we call it “Blight by Intent”. In the case of three recently demolished houses, the character-defining elements (windows, doors, fireplaces) were stripped out of the houses and sold, leaving derelict shells open to the elements and vandalism. The applicants (or “house Pirates”, if you will) then pled that the houses were uninhabitable and unsalvageable, and must be torn down. No demolition permit is required to undertake this kind of work, and while deplorable, is not technically illegal.
Another loophole developed at 1498 Angus Drive. where, because the heritage house straddles two legal lots, the owner sought and received a demolition permit with no development permit in place and no consideration for the heritage merit of the house. The Advisory Design Panel and heritage community were not consulted before the house was demolished: there was no inquiry, no neighbourhood notification, no plan in place for new structures. This is unprecedented and of great concern to the Design Panel and Heritage Vancouver.
This character area belongs to the residents of Vancouver, not just to the residents of Shaughnessy. It is critical that the City rectify the problems present in the design guidelines and Official Development Plan for this area, neither of which have been reviewed since they were enacted in 1982.