New West looks to beef up heritage protection
New Westminster is looking at establishing four heritage conservation areas with council having the authority to veto demolition in those zones.
Not having that power has been an irritant to some on council in the past, said Coun. Bill Harper.
"Retaining heritage is vital to New Westminster," said Harper at Monday's council meeting. "Not being able to address the issue of demolition we've lost some good houses."
His was not a unanimous view, however.
"I'm concerned about that direction. I'm certainly a proponent of preserving that heritage. But we can't ever forget people's property rights, for whatever reason," said Coun. Chuck Puchmayr. "We've done a lot in New Westminster to assist in preserving heritage and I don't see a need to go beyond that."
The areas being proposed are Bent Court in Uptown, Ash Street/Gloucester in Brow of the Hill, Wood Street in Queensborough, and the Manitoba/Peele Street area east of Tipperary Park.
All four, said the report written by city heritage planner Julie Schueck, "have unique and identifiable historic characteristics which make them valuable heritage places." She told council the city has options on which buildings to protect.
"When there is a heritage conservation area we define the boundaries of that through a consultative process, and within those boundaries we can determine which properties [to preserve]. We can protect all of them or do a schedule on which are to be protected," Schueck told council.
Harper is worried if the city doesn't have the veto it can't stop developers from buying up a historic house, tearing it down and building a new one to sell.
"They're not a part of our city in the sense they don't care about the heritage, they're about making profit, and we're not all about that," said Harper. "I think people in the city appreciate the heritage, and if we get a huge opposition to this we'll know through the consultation process."
Under the heritage conservation area designation, renovations will require an alteration permit to be reviewed by the heritage commission before being approved. The city would also have the authority to force heritage maintenance standards, and any permits issued may include specific requirements to the exterior design.
The next steps in adopting the heritage areas include city staff identifying the most appropriate properties in the proposed areas, contacting the areas' residents, holding information meetings, and consulting with the heritage commission and residents associations before returning to council for approval.
Creating the areas was identified as part of the official community plan as a reasonable way to go to encourage heritage conservation in New Westminster, said the report. "The four areas would be a good test of the process and of public acceptance."
New Westminster's proposed heritage conservation areas
• Bent Court is between Sixth and Seventh Streets, and Fourth Avenue and Brantford Street. Most are single family dwellings built between 1911 and 1936 with the oldest constructed in 1890. Nine properties are listed on the city's heritage inventory, but none are on the heritage register.
• Ash/Gloucester is Eighth Street across from John Robson elementary, and a little corner behind it off of Royal Avenue and Ash and Gloucester streets. It has eight building with heritage value build from 1889 to 1948, including four homes built before 1901 and a three-storey apartment building. None are listed on the heritage register.
• The 200 block of Wood Street, between Ewen Avenue and Salter Street, has 10 pre-1915 homes and 11 more from before 1945.
• Manitoba/Peele Street in Queen's Park is between Second and Third streets, and Queens Avenue to Royal, an area with many nooks and crannies to it. Three houses date back before 1900, 13 before 1915, and 11 pre-1960. Three houses are on the heritage register and one is a protected heritage property.