The City of New Westminster has imposed a one-year moratorium on demolitions of heritage homes in the Queen’s Park neighbourhood.
While staff explores the idea and consults with the community about creating a heritage conservation area in Queen’s Park, council has approved a one-year “heritage control period” requiring all single-family residential homes constructed on or before Dec. 31, 1966 to apply for a heritage alteration permit for demolitions, renovations to the front or sides of the building’s exterior or alterations to the roof.
“Residents are eager to expand on the conversation about heritage home conservation in Queen’s Park,” said Coun. Jaimie McEvoy, chair of the Queen’s Park neighbourhood heritage study working group. “During this phase we will discuss protecting what makes this neighbourhood unique, while at the same time finding opportunities to encourage heritage conservation.”
A heritage conservation area is a set of policies aimed at conserving the heritage features and feel of a neighbourhood.
“I was on the heritage committee when I was first elected in ’96. Queen’s Park was trying to get the city to turn their area into a heritage precinct. There was always a reason why we couldn’t do it,” said Coun. Chuck Puchmayr. “I think with the crazy real estate market right now and the speculation that’s going on, there was finally an appetite for it – if they wanted to preserve that historic neighbourhood, this was the only way of doing it. Otherwise it was going to be demolition after demolition.”
The Queen’s Park Neighbourhood heritage study, which has been considering ways to support heritage conservation in the neighbourhood for more than two years, supports the creation of a heritage conservation area.
“We have a year to come up with a bylaw. We have a one-year moratorium now. If we fail, we can’t impose that for another decade. We have a year,” Puchmayr said. “Staff feel very confident we will be able to do that in the proper time and communicate it back to the heritage people in Queen’s Park. They are worried that we will fail, but we won’t fail. It will be done.”
Maureen Arvanitidis, president of the Heritage Preservation Society of New Westminster, said taking steps to introduce a conservation area in the Queen’s Park neighbourhood is the most progressive measure the city has taken to preserve the city’s heritage.
“We look forward to working with the city to establish the guidelines for the conservation area and hope that other neighbourhoods, down the road, will also be able to establish conservation areas,” she said. “What makes New Westminster attractive to people is our heritage, so it is very important we look for ways to retain it, and this is an excellent start.”