Notes From The October Meeting

The October meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group was very well attended, including a very welcome visit by Patrick Gunn of Heritage Vancouver. Although a presentation took up much of the meeting, we were also able, as usual, to discuss a wide range of other topics.

  • Jak King presented his Database of Grandview Properties which includes historical details of almost 5,000 houses in Grandview, more than 1,100 of which no longer exist.  After examining the database, the presentation discussed the formation, surveying, and use of Districts, Blocks, and Lots within Grandview and reviewed them in the context of the history of Grandview. Finally, Jak discussed the need, over time, to incorporate this data into GHG’s wiki.  Jak will be working on ways to make the database public, probably on this site.
  • Following the presentation, we looked at a number of ways of using VanMap, Google Maps, and Goad’s 1912 atlas for historical research.
  • Eric noted that several parts of his Mechanicals and Materials series have been published on this site as Heritage Life Hacks. There will be more to come.
  • Eric also presented a shortened version of his monthly Neighbourhood Updates. This edition included the Terminal City Iron Works (now demolished), changes at 2111 Kitchener, 920 and 1102 Commercial, 540 and 1115 Victoria, and 906 Salsbury. This discussion also touched on environmental remediation and the art of debuilding rather than demolition.
  • Michael updated the group on the new First Shaughnessy heritage designation, and on updates to the Heritage Registry and possible changes to evaluation standards

It was another full and fascinating evening for heritage and history buffs.

 

Notes From The September Meeting

The new season of meetings kicked off on Thursday with a good attendance. As usual, the discussion was wide-ranging and fascinating.

  • We began as usual with our Around The Hood segment in which Eric leads us through an illustrated tour of various changes, sales, rumours etc within Grandview. This month we covered 17 properties. In many cases we looked at heritage properties that were or had been for sale; for others (such as 2111 Kitchener and 1102 Commercial) we wondered at the quick flipping of sites for huge short-term profits. We noted that three major apartment blocks on Commercial, each of which had supplied affordable rentals for decades, have now been or are being renovated with rental rates expected to increase dramatically.At 2088 Charles, we noted that this double lot was to be split as part of an HRA. Finally, we were pleased to see that 1003 Commercial (“The Peg”) which recently sold is having its roof repaired and thus seems likely to be preserved, at least temporarily.  These tours always spur interesting discussions and often produce nuggets of genuine historical value.
  • Eric has also transformed some parts of his earlier “Mechanicals and Materials” series into handy Life Hacks for Heritage presentations.  Within the next short while they will appear on this site on their own page.
  • We then spent some time reviewing and discussing the 2015-16 Centenary Signs houses.  The map and the short descriptive listings are already up on the site. Some years we have had a cake to celebrate the houses; this year, Penny made peanut butter cookies which were at least as good as cake!
  • Michael reviewed the new Heritage Register renewal project, and discussed the First Shaughnessy designation as an Historic Area.  Michael doesn’t believe other areas of Vancouver will receive such a designation because, in neighbourhoods such as Greandview and Mount Pleasant, the current RT zoning seems to be working as a reasonable defence of heritage.  This is not working so well, however, in commercial areas such as Main Street.
  • Mount Pleasant Heritage Group is looking for assistance to find old pictures of the Triangle Building in their neighbourhood at Main & Kingsway.  They can be contacted via their website.
  • The next meeting is on 15th October. Jak will be presenting his database of Grandview properties.

 

No meetings for July and August

We’ve decided to go with the flow (an aspirational word in this drought-stricken summer) and be indolent and meeting-free this summer. The next meeting will be September 17th.

In the meantime, the neighbourhood issues that are occupying the most time are the “No Venables Tower” campaign against the proposed Boffo/Kettle collaboration on the triangle lot at Commercial and Venables/Adanac. If you are opposed to it, there is a petition at http://tinyurl.com/pwd9645.

The other one we are watching is the rehabilitation and infill project at the Brookhouse Residence, 1872 Parker Street. An application to add it to the heritage register is going ahead and plans will be presented, probably later this summer, to the heritage commission.

Nominate a site for the Heritage Register!

Just announced and posted a couple of days ago: the public nomination process for new additions to the Vancouver Heritage Register …

In broad terms, the Heritage Register is an information document; as I understand it, owners of properties will not be able to say “no” to a nomination, but they will be notified. You will notice that sites should respond to one of the broad themes of Vancouver’s culture and history – this is an evolution of the old Heritage Register which was more closely focused on architecture and landscape. That said, sites where “something happened,” however significant, may be more difficult to categorize and save than architecturally interesting buildings, but we will see how it works out.

To make sure you’re not nominating a site that’s already on the register, go to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Site Finder Map. It’s the best way to familiarize yourself with the buildings and places that are already recognized.

Being on the Heritage Register is no guarantee, and never has been one, of any sort of protection against demolition or alteration. It does, however, make a place eligible for a process that eventually could confer “designation” – that is, legal protection.

Notes To January Meeting

We had another full house for our monthly meeting on Thursday, and it was an interesting one.

  • Eric Phillips continued his marvelous Mechanicals and Materials series, this time with a lively discussion of what and how to keep records of your house. Using his own home as an example, he talked about property records, such as building permits, ownership and residency changes, and making an inventory of building components, such as mouldings, tiles, fireplaces, original paint colours and wallpaper designs, etc. He went on to explain the value of documenting, with images preferably, renovations made, including discoveries exposed during such renovations. He closed with ideas for maintaining these records in what he thought could be a House Manual.
  • We then discussed changes in various buildings around the neighbourhood including Brookhouse (becoming ever more derelict), Rob Wynen’s old house (in which the interior has been gutted, and the Brandon Block in the 1700-block of Commercial Drive where building/renovation work in the basement and the upstairs apartments is ongoing. The impending sale of both the Odlin Block in the 1600-block and 2064 Commercial were mentioned. The latter is being sold with the assumption that the 1945 building will be demolished.
  • Michael Kluckner led a very informative discussion on how heritage buildings are evaluated in Canada, in general, and in Vancouver in particular.  He went through the creation of Statements of Significance and how those documents are evaluated and edited, and he also explained in detail the scoring system used to give buildings an A, B, or C in Vancouver’s Register.  He closed by discussing current efforts to formalize building descriptions, mainly through roof styles.
  • It was noted that the deadline for applications for the City of Vancouver Heritage Awards is 2nd February.
  • Penny Street circulated the old photographs that Ron Segev found within the walls during renovation of his house at 1746 E. 3rd.
  • We briefly noted that our heritage plaque at Via Tevere has essentally disappeared through reaction with elements in the atmosphere.  We will endeavour to find a more permanent replacement.
  • Finally, we briefly discussed another intervention on behalf of Grandview heritage into the still-ongoing Community Plan process.  Jak will circulate the 2012 document that we sent to the City in advance of the Plan.
  • Our next meeting will be on the third Thursday of February in the Britannia Boardroom at 7pm.

Next meeting on January 15th, 7 pm …

… as always in the Britannia boardroom just past the Napier Greenway on the north side.

Happy New Year! The Grandview Heritage Group was founded in 2011 and is an informal group interested in both the past and future of the community. Everyone is welcome.

Agenda items so far:

• The biennial Vancouver Heritage Awards nomination process is underway with a deadline of February 2nd. There will be discussion of whether local projects ought to be nominated and how to proceed.

• Michael Kluckner will be giving an overview of the evaluation of heritage buildings in the city: how they get nominated for the heritage register, the Statement of Significance process, how they are scored and placed into A, B and C categories. For those who want to bone up on the subject in advance, go to the following links:

– To view the heritage register and some background information, go here. A more interactive (but incomplete) map is here.

– To study the scoring methodology, use this link.

Eric Phillips will be adding another presentation to his “Mechanics and Materials” series on the ins and outs of vintage houses, this one probably focusing on plywood. There may in addition be, subject to time, a brief look at How to Build a Rec Room c. 1960.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you inherited one of these beauties in your Grandview house, this may be the source.

• Blair Redlin reported that the Bosa Building at 562 Victoria Drive has been sold; the Montessori school in the same building at the north end is apparently closing. Fifteen townhouses are going in on the old grocery store site across the street that has been vacant for many years, and more townhouses and other forms of condo have replaced the affordable rental housing on sites along Adanac. We will discuss the future of grandfathered commercial uses on Victoria Drive and the other issues, such as rentals and affordability.

• There will doubtless be some discussion of the Citizens Assembly and the continuing saga of the Grandview area plan.

• Previous meetings have featured information on the city’s Heritage Action Plan. One part of it that may eventually have some meaning for the single-family areas of Grandview (i.e. the southeast part of the neighbourhood with RS zoning) is the pending policy to discourage demolitions of “character houses.”

Here’s the main document on that part of the plan. Below are the paragraphs that may eventually have an impact on Grandview.

Pre-1940 Character House Assessment across the rest of the City
Action 6 of the HAP directed staff to amend the RS (single family) District Schedules (zoning regulations) using the RT District Schedules as a model to encourage retention. Pending the completion of the HAP, staff have established an interim procedure for considering development applications involving pre-1940 houses. Staff are now seeking further information from inquirers proposing to demolish a building of potential heritage or character value. The first step in the process now includes a determination of whether the existing building is of character merit.

Staff have prepared a bulletin outlining the interim character assessment procedure (Appendix C). The procedure utilizes a date (pre-1940) threshold as an initial criterion. Then staff will review a number of surviving, prescribed character features such as:

  the authentic or period massing 

  roof form 

  front porch 

  exterior wall materials 

  window openings and frames and details.


These character criteria are currently utilized in a number of zoning districts (RT-3, RT-7/8, RT-10, RM-1 and RT-11). 
This interim approach is now being applied in zoning districts where the character criteria does not currently exist (i.e. RS-3, RS-5, etc.), and where conditional zoning provisions can be used to incentivize character preservation such as increased density, or height, or changes to setbacks . These conditional zoning areas represent approximately 23% of the one and two family zoning areas in the city (see Map 1) located generally in Arbutus, Dunbar and Kerrisdale.

This interim strategy does not apply to outright zones (e.g. RS-1), which represents approximately 77% of the one and two family zoning areas across the city, or for development applications utilizing the outright provisions of the applicable district schedule. As set out in the HAP, this approach will be studied further by the consultants to determine its applicability to all single family zones.

For a pre-1940s building deemed to have character merit or listed on the Vancouver Heritage Register, an owner could choose to either retain the building and seek relaxations to facilitate the building’s conservation, or if they choose to demolish the character or heritage building, the owners will be advised that the Director of Planning may not consider the conditional provisions of the applicable zoning by-laws and that the outright provisions of the zoning may apply. Where buildings do not have character merit, the building may be demolished and the conditional aspects of the development application may be considered. There may be some limited circumstances when the demolition of a character merit building will be considered by the Director of Planning. For example, if a property is underutilized (a small building on a large site) which could result in large additions that would impact the character value of the original building; or if the building is structurally unsound (confirmed by a registered structural engineer.

The HAP will review zoning provisions and incentives to encourage retention of character houses including the consideration of strata titling. Presently, strata titling is permitted in some RS (single family) zones. For example, in RS-2 and RS-4 it can be done for infill dwellings and two-family dwellings, and in RS-6 and RS-7 for infill dwellings which are uses that can be permitted on a conditional basis. In addition, sites subject to a Heritage Revitalization Agreement (HRA) can also include strata titling as part of the incentive to encourage building retention and rehabilitation. As part of the HAP work to be completed, consideration will be given to expanding the ability to allow strata titling of properties in other RS zones when character houses are being retained. Furthermore, additional incentives such as increases to floor area (for existing building and or laneway house), extra units and relaxation of other regulations to encourage retention will be considered.

Meeting Notes: March

We had about twenty people at our meeting last night, with a couple of new visitors.  I don’t think anyone was disappointed with all that we managed to cover in a couple of hours.

  • Michael Kluckner gave a detailed and excellent illustrated talk that led us through the history of heritage legislation and regulation in Vancouver, starting with the first Heritage By-law (which has its 40th anniversary this year), which was a result of the controversial Birks Building demolition. He then segued into a review of the various housing styles that we can find in Grandview, focusing on the change from a front porch-based culture to one that prefers more privacy in backyards and courtyards.
  • Michael’s talk was by way of a primer for our 2014 Centenary House signs project walk on Sunday.  We will meet at the Britannia library at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday 23rd March.  We will cover the area west and south of Britannia.  Everyone is welcome to join us.
  • We noted that Stephanie Chang, the UBC Historical Geography (GEOG 429) student who has been wortking with us, will present her paper next Tuesday.  Michael and Jak are planning to go.
  • We discussed the situation regarding Brookhouse, 1872 Parker. The news does not seem good, and we may well lose this house to demolition very soon.
  • The meeting that several of us had with the Agnew family was described, and led to an interesting discussion about the value of family papers and photographs.
  • Jak and Bruce described the $25,000 New Horizons grant that has now been received and is to be managed by VCN.  The purpose of the project is to collect as many seniors’ stories as we can.  Interviews should begin in April.
  • Last, and certainly not least, Eric Phillips gave us a teaser about the new edition of his series, Heritage Mechanicals and Materials, that he will present at our meeting next month.  The subject is Glass.  He brought along a number of examples of stained glass and beveled plate, and then encouraged our attendance next month with some fascinating illustrations about the history of glass.

Another great meeting; I think we are really getting into our stride now.

January Meeting Notes

My apologies for the delay in posting these notes;  it has been a very busy week!

Last Thursday we had a really productive meeting, covering a wide range of current and ongoing issues:

  • We were joined by Vancouver City Clr. Heather Deal for the first hour.  She took us through the City’s new Heritage Action Plan‘s 14 points in good detail. The Plan appears to cover everything from tightening up demolition permits to reducing the complexity of HRAs, updating the Heritage Register and changing the building code to ease heritage renovation.
  • The conversation after the presentation was equally useful: some speakers noted that highly inflated property values in Vancouver were damaging heritage retention; that cultural mapping in the Heritage Register should be separate from architectural mapping; that just a few thousand dollars in grants could return many of the Edwardian ornamentation that flourished on the Drive; that groups like ours should be able to nominate for the Register; that fees collected for HRAs etc should be maintained for heritage uses rather than disappear into general revenue.
  • Three specific issues were raised with Clr. Deal:  (a) 1872 Parker, the Brockhouse, needs to be saved from imminent demolition.  James Evans, who developed the Jeffs Residences and who was in attendance, confirmed that he was in discussions with the current owners.  However, there were still issues to be solved before he can move in to save the property.  This was greeted with excitement by the group.
  • (b) The Green House next to the Cultch on Venables which Heather Redfern has stated is to be demolished.  Clr. Deal stated that the City wants to save the building and they would be working to that end.
  • (c) Astorino’s.  The Group stressed the cultural importance of the building which is slated to be lost in the Boffo redevelopment.  It was also noted that this is now an active performance space. Clr. Deal promised to review the situation.
  • Clr. Deal had to leave the meeting after an hour, but it was generally agreed this had been a very useful conversation.
  • We discussed the work that our intern, Stephanie Chang, a Geog 429 student, is working on.  She is working with us to create a social and cultural portrait of the area around Woodland Park.  She has to complete the project for presentation in April.
  • Kristen Moran gave a short presentation on her extended video about heritage in Grandview.  She was looking for more heritage homeowners to be a part of the video, and she received a great many names from those attending the meeting.
  • Penny gave an update on the Centenary Signs Project.  All the 2013 signs have now been collected and are being cleaned.  We will continue the survey for 2014 targets in March when the weather improves.
  • Finally, we had another episode in Eric Phillips’ magnificent Mechanicals and Materials series.  This part was on heritage home heating systems.  Eric took us on an illustrated trip through various fuel types — wood, coal, coke, sawdust, oil and gas.  Fascinating stuff.  Next month we will continue this part, looking at fireplaces, boilers and other systems.

Meeting Notes: November 2013

Last Thursday evening, the GHG met for its November meeting. It was another conversation full of interest, with a good turn our and new people attending. In brief, we discussed:

  • 1872 Parker Street.  Craig Ollenberger gave a history of the last few years of Brookhouse, leading to the current situation where we will almost certainly lose this magnificent Queen Anne building in the next few weeks.  The debate widened into HRAs and other mechanisms that might save such houses.  It was agreed that we need to research the additional value of heritage houses for buyers. It was also agreed that we should invite Heather Deal to a GHG meeting to discuss an updated Heritage Register.
  • Penny got us up-to-date on her discussions with UBC Professors about using students to assist us with our projects this winter/spring. It seems that basic research on our Centenary Celebration houses might be the best bet. It was noted the students will need hand-holding.  It was agreed will determine our needs in December for a January start.
  • Britannia is currently managing the Astorinio’s space at Commercial & Venables.  It is part of the proposed Boffo properties development.  It was noted that the EWaldorf and the Hollywood received demolition delays, and we agree that Astorino’s shoild get at least that.  We will be pushing for a Statement of Significance to be completed.  Penny will see if we can get a tour of the property.
  • Eric Phillips gave a presentation that was an update to several of his wonderful Mechanicals & Materials series.  He covered new forms of roofing materials, dealing with tin roofs, textured concrete blocks, and drywall mud.
  • Penny and Maria and others have begun the process of walking the neighbourhood looking for candidates for our 2014 Centenary Signs project.  They have already covered two of ten areas, and other walking tours start each Wednesday at 1pm from the 1700 block Napier.  It was noted that some of the 2013 signs may be missing and may need to be replaced.
  • Jak agreed to call Lance about the Permanent Signs project.
  • Britannia is having an Open House on Thursday 28th November in the greenway.  GHG is sharing a table with GWAC.  Volunteers are needed.
  • Bruce Macdonald reported on the first formal meeting of the Mount Pleasant Heritage Group — the first in what we hope will eventually be a city-wide collections of groups.  A local brewery has agreed to sponsor space for their meetings.
  • Penny reported on our finances, which are in good shape.
  • It was noted that Jak King and Bruce will be making a history/heritage presentation at the COPE meeting on Sunday 24th November.
  • Michael Kluckner is curating a series of historic Vancouver films at the Van City Cinema on Sunday 24th.
  • Michael is also curating a series of Vancouver panorama photographs at the Space Centre on December 4th at 7pm.
  • Finally, Carolyn Lair introduced us to the ASPECT program that mentors organizations on fundraising, and organizational strengths.

Another very full and worthwhile evening.