The Queen’s Park Heritage Conservation Area:
Protection and incentives make this a win-win proposal
If City Council does not approve a Heritage Conservation Area (HCA), we will be back to the status quo – where no house (other than a few designated properties which have significant restrictions on what exterior alterations can be made) will be protected and there will be no design requirements for new builds. Under provincial law, the proposed layer of protection is only possible through an HCA. With so much at stake, and a lot of misinformation that’s been circulating, here are some facts about the proposed HCA in Queen’s Park. Property values will likely increase or remain the same for most homeowners.
In a presentation to City Council on April 24, Jay Wollenberg of Coriolis Consulting indicated that a majority of QP properties in the proposed HCA would likely either benefit or see no change in property value; however, the policy could affect some properties which, due to their small lot and/or house size, may not be able to take advantage of proposed incentives.
Providing smaller Advanced Protection properties with options: To address these concerns, the City is proposing a new, temporary sub-category to the Advanced Protection level for smaller homes and lots built on or before 1940. If the HCA is approved, Coriolis Consulting will immediately begin a detailed analysis of the heritage, economic and renovation potential for these homes. The affected properties will either be reclassified as Advanced or Limited when an HCA review takes place in 2019.
Proposed incentives will increase value and livability: To address property value concerns, City staff will begin an exploration, consultation and implementation process for proposed incentives for Advanced Category homes (built in 1940 or earlier) if the HCA is approved.
Some of the incentives being considered include:
- An increased floor space ratio (FSR) of between 0.1 and 0.2 FSR
- Full basements exempted from FSR calculations
- Stratification to multi-dwelling properties, and subdivision to small lot properties.
Developers aren’t the only ones who want to buy more modest, less expensive homes: Smaller homes will still be valuable, offering a “foot in the door” for younger people keen to build some “sweat equity” and for older people who want to downsize but reside in such a livable neighbourhood that’s close to so many amenities.
The 2013 demolition of the original Riddell House at 221 Third Avenue was one of the catalysts for that started the Heritage Conservation Area.
Queen’s Park demolition applications rising: The rate of demolition applications in Queen’s Park has been increasing. According to the City’s statistics for the five years from 2011-2015, only 12 houses (total) were demolished; however, alarmingly in 2016 alone there were seven demolitions applied for (five approved, two denied). If we continue at that rate, Queen’s Park will lose 35 houses in the next five years. How long can Queen’s Park sustain these losses before the very essence of what we value about living in this unique neighbourhood is eradicated and everyone loses?
Design controls are only enforceable with an HCA: The push for an HCA began as a community initiative to retain the streetscapes and green space that define the character of the neighbourhood. However, they can only be implemented with an HCA in place or by changing New Westminster’s zoning bylaw framework to include design controls that would apply to the entire city. Protection of Queen’s Park’s historic character means there will be some trade-offs. But with the recently announced emphasis on addressing concerns of small homes/lot sizes – and some potentially robust incentives that could be implemented – there is no downside to an HCA.
Urge the Mayor and City Council to approve this important initiative so future generations can enjoy our beautiful streetscapes and historic homes, both large and small.
Respectfully submitted by the directors of the New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society and the Queen’s Park Residents Association.