Last night I attended my first ever Public Hearing. Topic: First Shaughnessy Heritage Area
Disclaimer; The following are my interpretation of material presented by City Planning & Development office and from all speakers I listened to.
The best is always at the end of any article or blog post but, do not jump to the conclusions without understanding all the facts. This was the third public hearing held on this topic and it was packed with residents who care about their community and a democratic process. 52 residents signed up to speak and I lasted half way through. Another meeting is scheduled this Friday to listen to more resident’s opinion on the matter.
Out of 25 speakers 5 wanted to keep the First Shaughnessy as conservation area and the rest were against it. Do not read this as black and white opinion that residents are against it but, people were against the way the city went about it and proposed conservation maintenance plan which tells residents what colour their house should be or the kind of trees to plant in the yards. Here are highlights of various speakers;
- There are 317 houses under the Heritage protection Act half of them in Victoria.
- Not all properties merit under either A-B-C classification.
- Quality of building pre 1940 is not today’s standard therefore are more dangerous to the environment. Also, are these older home safe in event of earthquake?
- First Shaughnessy is about the whole package and not only about the new house being built but, also about useless bike lanes, 16 signs post and 19 signs, trees allowed to be cut or inhabitable houses.
- DD’s densification and development. City Planners proposed laneway houses and more FSR that is not the solution according to one speaker.
- Why pick on First Shaughnessy? One speaker asked. Why not the same principles to Dunbar, Cambie corridor or Kits?
- City of Van made a mess of this process which started in 2013. Up to date there is no decision which has domino effect in house prices in rest of the city. Potential buyers who could have purchased in First Shaughnessy, waited for decision before moving ahead with investment, now made a purchase in other parts of the city. These buyers paid more for homes in Pt Grey or Mackenzie Heights which ousted some buyers of the market therefore increased prices per square foot. The City is solely responsible for housing price increase due to this beaurocratic unjust process.
- Proposed HCA is not flexible and infringes in residents rights. One speaker expressed the impact of resale if these changes are implemented. Council Geoff Meggs rudely asked speaker “ what’s the problem if you are not planning to sell”? no consideration for people who voted them to have a seat in politics and listen and respect citizens concerns
- All designated heritage homes have not been inspected by the city staff. They just applied a blanket rule on all homes. Planning and development staff needs to get out of their offices and walk around the city to determine which homes merit designation and which does not. Some homes built prior to 1940 are falling down and kept up to standard. Is that kind of homes we want to preserve? That’s how Shaughnessy should look like?
- None of the speakers wish to see demolition of the homes similar to Dunbar or other parts of the city but, there should not be a blank statement that all homes pre 1940 are heritage and proposed maintenance plan is against any individual rights. Might as well be a socialist country!