LETTERS: New Westminster’s HCA won’t hurt Queen’s Park home values

The J.J. and Lottie Johnston House (1905) – an example of a house in the “Advanced” Protection category. This reader says forthcoming incentives, along with the design guidelines for new builds, are making Queen’s Park an even more desirable area in which to live. Photograph by Paul Fuoco, NWHPS

Reprinted from The New Westminster Record – Published Thursday, May 17, 2018

by Kathleen Langstroth, President, Queen’s Park Residents’ Association

This is in response to the unfortunately titled front page article, “Heritage home prices take hit,” the Record, April 26.

The purpose of the Coriolis report referred to in the article was to analyze the 365 homes in the Queen’s Park neighbourhood in the advanced protection category of the Heritage Conservation Area (homes built before 1941).

Due to the tremendous variety of house and lot sizes in this category, city council asked staff and the Coriolis Consulting Corporation to look into what could be done to assist home owners to meet the goals of the HCA — i.e. develop their properties to the fullest potential in keeping with the HCA objectives.

There is no “hit to home values” because the incentives designed to offset any perceived negative effects have yet to be chosen and implemented.

With their implementation, much of the concern about homeowners meeting the full potential of their properties will be addressed.

B.C. Assessment has repeatedly stated that the effects of the HCA will not be known for at least a year and more likely two or three years, and we are only nine months in.

The effect of the HCA on house values is still an open question.

However, research on established HCAs throughout the country has shown economic growth equal to or greater than surrounding neighbourhoods and certainly not losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars, as some like to argue.

Part of the difficulty in assessing what has been happening in the Queen’s Park real estate market is due to the same factors that have been at play across Metro Vancouver, such as increasing mortgage rates and qualifying criteria and the (increase in the) foreign buyers’ tax.

However, in speaking with local Realtors, they have stated that all markets in the city were fairly quiet in January, February and March, but that it has been very active in April – especially in Queen’s Park.

In April, there were sales of homes surpassing the $2 million mark.

We have also been told by these same Realtors that some of the buyers bought in the Queen’s Park neighbourhood because of the HCA protection.

The HCA was developed to protect the character of this valued historic neighbourhood, and it appears to be doing just that.

The city has done a very good job of consulting with and listening to the residents of Queen’s Park to develop incentives that will provide further benefits to almost every property.

The forthcoming incentives, along with the design guidelines for new builds, are making Queen’s Park an even more desirable area in which to live.

This is evidenced by four recent sales in the $1.9- to $2.285-million range.

Kathleen Langstroth is president of the Queen’s Park Residents’ Association.

Related story by Theresa McManus, The New Westminster Record – April 26, 2018
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