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Developing Story: Rally to support heritage homes

The battle to preserve Vancouver’s heritage homes continues this week in front of the Legg Residence in Vancouver’s West End. Conservationists plan to hold a demonstration at the property at 1241 Harwood St. at 3 p.m.
West 37th house
This house on West 37th was torn down last week.

The battle to preserve Vancouver’s heritage homes continues this week in front of the Legg Residence in Vancouver’s West End.

Conservationists plan to hold a demonstration at the property at 1241 Harwood St. at 3 p.m., May 25 to call attention to concerns that heritage homes are being knocked down at an alarming rate.

The Legg Residence is slated for demolition to make way for a 17-storey tower unless someone pays to move it to another location — a costly endeavor, which would need to happen quickly to accommodate construction timelines.

Caroline Adderson, who’s behind the popular Vancouver Vanishes Facebook page, is one of the people involved in the protest.

The City of Vancouver issued more than 1,000 demolition permits in 2013. Most of them were for single-family homes, and many of those pre-1940s houses built with a high level of craftsmanship and quality materials, including first growth wood, according to a press release from organizers.

“The majority of these homes are already adapted, or adaptable, to modern living requirements and are a more affordable and ecologically sustainable option than the houses that currently replace them,” it stated. “Each demolition sends more than 50 tonnes of waste to the landfill, taking with it the history and character of the streetscape and the mature gardens that grace our established neighbourhoods.”

Demonstrators plan to bring messages for council, as well as pictures and mementoes of “vanishing Vancouver” to attach to the orange construction fences. The images will be photographed and sent to the mayor and council.

The possibility that someone might pay to move the Legg Residence offsite doesn’t affect the protest plans, Adderson said.

“We’re using the Legg house to symbolize all the demolitions happening in the city. We’ll be thrilled if the Legg house is spared, but what of the more than 900 other houses?” Adderson told the Courier.

She pointed to a home at 1722 West 37th Ave., which was demolished last week.  

“Moving houses is wonderful, but obviously quite expensive and arduous. The more sensible option is to offer protection of our pre-1940s heritage and character houses through zoning changes, incentives for retention and disincentives for demolitions. People who wish to build their dream home might then choose other houses to demolish. Better yet, they might recognize the inherent value of these beautifully crafted homes made of natural materials, including old growth wood, and opt for restoration,” she added.

Heritage house tour
Speaking of heritage, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation Heritage House Tour takes place from 10 to 5 p.m., June 1.

Eleven homes are included in the tour.

A late and interesting addition is Casa Mia at 1920 Southwest Marine Dr., which has been mentioned often in this column.

In March, the city delayed a public hearing on a rezoning proposal for the property. The hearing has yet to be rescheduled.

The Care Group wants the site rezoned from single-family residential to comprehensive development so it can build a care facility on the property. The 20,700 square foot Spanish Revival-style heritage home, designed by architect Ross Anthony Lort, was built in 1932 for George Reifel, a liquor magnate and rumrunner during the Prohibition era.

The Heritage Vancouver Foundation notes that the home has never been open on this scale before and will only be open for one day during the Heritage House Tour. For information and ticket prices for the tour, see vancouverheritagefoundation.org

noconnor@vancourier.com
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