President’s Message

New West Heritage Preservation Society - Board - Steve North

Request to City Council: Deny the re-classification of the 1908 W.E. Walmsley House from ‘advanced’ to ‘special limited’ protection at the Monday, October 28, 2019 Public Hearing

Steve North, President

New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society

Despite four years of hard work by the City-appointed Queen’s Park Neighbourhood Working Group (consisting of 12 residents representing a cross-section of Queen’s Park stakeholders)  and the June 2017 implementation of the Queen’s Park Heritage Conservation Area (HCA), we are once again appealing to City Council to refuse an application to demolish a house – or in this case, remove its protected status. 

We started this work with a goal to save the unique built heritage, streetscape and landscape in the neighbourhood of Queen’s Park.  In the ensuing consultations with Council, HCA stakeholders suggested even more incentives to encourage homeowners to keep, not demolish, their houses.

For example, we proposed the ‘special limited’ category for owners in the advanced protected category who, for various reasons, can’t take advantage of incentives. City staff would evaluate and score a home’s heritage value, determining whether it should remain in the ‘advanced’ protection category or be re-classified as ‘special limited’ (a less restrictive category in which homeowners can apply for a demolition permit).

We also completed a heritage study that resulted in the reclassification of 80 Queen’s Park homes  from ‘advanced’ to ‘special limited’ protection, including 318 Fourth Street (the 1908 W.E. Walmsley House), which scored 60 – meaning it scored enough points to remain in the ‘advanced protection’ category.    

The heritage study evaluation of Walmsley House stated that the building is currently using only 67% of floor space available under the zoning bylaw. The placement of the house and conditions of the lot (such as size, slope, shape and access to a lane) would allow further development to occur, including an addition at the rear and, potentially, the construction of a laneway house. Based on this information, the homeowners could maintain their home’s front heritage exterior while revitalizing every other element of the home – without impacting the development potential of the lot.

With this win-win scenario, it’s puzzling why the applicants are applying to re-classify their property (thereby enabling them to apply for a demo permit) when they haven’t explored or submitted an expert opinion on revitalizing the property under the incentive program. Instead, they’re simply expressing a personal wish for something new.

The whole point of the HCA was to support the majority of Queen’s Park homeowners who wish to restrict demolition and retain the heritage streetscape that makes Queen’s Park such a  desirable locale for new and established families; and so historically and economically significant for the City of New Westminster.  My real concern is that this application is at the front of an increasingly long line-up of like-minded applicants who view the October 28 Public Hearing for Walmsley House as an opportunity to present their cases at future Council Meetings in order to gain their own re-classification .

Council withstood opposition to the proposed Queen’s Park HCA in 2016-17, opting to support the majority of Queen’s Park residents who wanted the HCA and the protection it affords this neighbourhood. I think it’s time once again for Council to take a stand for those same constituents and deny this application to re-classify the protection level of 318 Fourth St. – the 1908 W.E. Walmsley House. 

Steve North, President

New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 28th, 2019 at 11:34 am and is filed under Heritage Conservation Area, News and Events. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.