Caroline Adderson, who launched a Facebook page last year documenting Vancouver heritage homes being lost to development, says her concerns aren’t adequately addressed in the Heritage Action Plan going before council Wednesday.
Adderson, a West Side resident who lives on the Kerrisale/Mackenzie Heights border, started the Vancouver Vanishes page last January to lament and celebrate the city’s vanishing character homes. It has more than 2,500 likes.
At its inception, Adderson said the goal was to encourage Vancouverites to press city council to curtail demolitions and promote the green option renovation and retention.
Adderson welcomes the city’s proposed Heritage Action Plan, which outlines immediate, medium and long-term heritage conservation measures, but says it doesn’t go far enough.
“There’s some great stuff for heritage, there’s no doubt about it — if they actually do what they say [like measures] as simple as updating the heritage registry,” she said. [But] there’s nothing for neighbourhoods, which is the issue that concerns me.”
She said the only proposed measure that will have any effect is Action 6, which is under medium to long-term goals.
It states that once the heritage registry is updated (Action 5), it could identify areas “where heritage resources (and likely as a consequence older character buildings and landscaping). Where such concentrations occur in RS zoned neighbourhoods, and in other residentially zoned areas with fewer retention provisions such as RT-4 and RT-5, existing zoning can be amended or new zoning adopted to address the potential loss of character.”
Adderson isn’t satisfied.
“That’s the only thing that really will help those houses, but it’s really vague and the timeline is too long,” she said pointing out it wouldn’t start until late 2014 or early 2015 during which time dozens of character houses could be knocked down.
“I’m quite disappointed, but I’m quite pleased about what they’re doing about actual heritage – that’s important too,” she said.
Adderson, who will speak at Wednesday’s meeting, wants zoning regulations to be dealt with as a quick action in the report.
“I would be very concerned if they passed this and say a year from now, we’re going to start looking,” she said. “Even if they did this, those developers are going to go crazy — they’re just going to plow everything under because they sense they won’t be able to do their business they way they have been doing it if they sense these restrictions are coming up. I think it would be a disaster.
Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr says the Heritage Action Plan has potential.
“It’s got ideas in there but it hasn’t really focused in on the protection of what we might call heritage areas where there are homes or buildings that aren’t on the heritage registry but together really do provide for community heritage,” she says.
“There are tools in the report that could be good tools. For example there is the suggestion around changing RS zoning to other kinds of zoning that could be more protective of heritage.”
Like Adderson, Carr is concerned about delaying actions regarding zoning.
“If there’s a lag or delay, you will see a lot of properties purchased with the intent to proceed very rapidly with the redevelopment of these homes,” she said.