What is a Heritage Conservation Area (HCA) and what will it look like in New West?

The Value of Heritage in our Community

Welcome to the New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society’s new blog series that examines what it means to preserve heritage sites in New Westminster – from an economic, aesthetic, community and/or historical perspective. At least once a month we will present information that helps contribute to informed opinion and constructive discussion around a subject that is vital to the enrichment of heritage structure in the Royal City.

by Deane Gurney, member of the NWHPS Board of Directors

A Heritage Conservation Area (HCA) is a distinct and identifiable neighbourhood, characterized by the historic and heritage value of its buildings, streetscapes and green spaces (including trees and boulevards). The purpose of an HCA designation is to protect that inherent character with certain restrictions on property use and by-laws developed by the City in consultation with its residents.

There’s more to an HCA than preserving heritage and placing boundaries on property use. It’s also about providing long term protection to the very characteristics that cause people to want to live, work or play in that designated area.

photo credit: City of New Westminster

photo credit: City of New Westminster

HCAs are prevalent across Canada and they come in many forms; ranging from the extreme, where you can’t make alterations without a Heritage Alteration Permit, to the simple edict that any construction must fit into the streetscape.

Regardless of how a municipality’s HCA is defined, it requires City Council’s support and must fall within the provincial legislation. The overriding consideration in a Heritage Conservation Area is that the property owner can use undeveloped areas on that property but the City will advise what type of development can take place.

Status of HCAs in New Westminster

City Council began consultation and planning for the development of New Westminster’s first HCA in 2014, in consultation with property owners, developers, heritage experts and City planning staff. In June 2016, Council implemented a one year control period during which time, the City decided which heritage building demolition applications would be approved. The first round of public consultation on the HCA policy and design guidelines was completed in late 2016.  A second round of public consultation commences in March 2017.  Council will approve a pilot Queen’s Park HCA in June 2017.

Have your say on a New Westminster HCA:
Sunday, February 19 Queen’s Park Resident Association General Meeting – 2:00- 4:00 PM at Centennial Lodge, that includes a Heritage Conservation Area  presentation by Britney Quail, Heritage Planning Analyst, followed by questions and answers.
Thursday, March 16 New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society AGM – 7:30 – 9:00 PM, Galbraith House.
March 5-12 City of New Westminster second round of public consultation on the  first draft of the Queen’s Park Conservation Area policy and design guidelines
Monday, May 29 Public Hearing