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Heritage home demolition request moves on to New West council for consideration

A 1941 house in the Queen’s Park neighbourhood may be demolished if it can’t find a new home.
219 Second St.
The city's land use and planing committee supports a staff recommendation to allow a house at 219 Second St. to be demolished if it can't be relocated to another site.

A 1941 house in the Queen’s Park neighbourhood may be demolished if it can’t find a new home.

The city’s land use and planning committee, which include three members of city council, is recommending that council direct staff to proceed with processing of a demolition permit application for 219 Second St. The motion would also direct staff to advise the applicant to continue advertising that the house is available for relocation.

Kathleen Stevens, the city’s heritage planning analyst, said the house is not a legally protected building in the Queen’s Park heritage conservation area. While it isn’t listed on the city’s heritage register, she said it is listed on the city’s heritage resource inventory.

“The community heritage commission reviewed the heritage value of the building and has requested that council consider placing formal protection on the property through a heritage designation bylaw,” she told the committee. “Staff have been in contact with the applicant to explore building retention, outlining incentive options available.”

Stevens said the applicant explored retention of the house as a large laneway house or as an infill house small-lot subdivision, but concluded they wish to proceed with demolition and new construction. She said the applicant has also explored relocation and deconstruction of the building as alternatives to demolition, in an effort to minimize reusable materials from going into the landfill.

According to a staff report, the community heritage commission discussed the matter at its May meeting and recommended city council consider formal protection of the home through a heritage designation bylaw.

Stevens said the city’s practice is to designate properties only with the consent of the owner. Staff don’t believe the heritage value of this house is significant enough for the city to unilaterally require designation.

The land use and planning committee recommended that council direct staff to proceed with processing of the demolition permit.

Although the house looks like it could have met some of the heritage criteria, Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said it isn’t a protected property. Because the property is located in the Queen’s Park heritage conservation area, he said the city will have some control over what goes on that site in the future.

“But other than that, because it is not designated and because it is not protected, it’s wide open,” he said. “So I will yield to the community on that, and have it go to council for possible approval.”

Coun. Chinu Das, who chairs the land use and planning committee, supported the staff recommendation. Out of curiosity, she questioned the financial cost to the city if it forced the property owner to retain the house and if it didn't approve its demolition.

Stevens said the city would likely have to pay the homeowner compensation for any loss in value, if they were unable to develop the property to its full potential under zoning entitlements.

“We don’t have exact estimation because we haven’t been in that position before, and there are very few municipalities in the province who have put themselves in that position,” added Emilie Adin, the city’s director of development services. “It would probably involve getting third-party valuation of the property before and after the heritage designation to be able to give you an estimate on that difference.”