City eyeing new heritage preservation areas

The City of New Westminster is contemplating something new for several old parts of the city.

City council has directed staff to look into the creation of heritage conservation areas in the Bent Court (uptown), Ash/Gloucester (Brow of the Hill), Wood Street (Queensborough) and Manitoba/Peele Street (Queen's Park) neighbourhoods.

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A heritage conservation area is a distinct district with special heritage value and/or heritage consideration.

Coun. Chuck Puchmayr supports heritage but doesn't want the city to go to an "extreme" regarding preservation.

"I think we have done a lot in New Westminster to assist in preserving heritage," he said. "I don't think we need to go beyond that."

Coun. Bill Harper said he takes the "very opposite" opinion, as he considers heritage a "vital part" of New Westminster. He believes the city may have lost some houses because it hasn't had measures in place to protect them from demolition.

"I like the direction we are going in here," he said. "I think it gives us some new tools to preserve."

If there's a lot of resistance to the proposed changes, Harper said that would become clear during the public consultation process.

There has been some interest in heritage conservation areas, but the city staff report says it would be appropriate to focus on four specific, small-scale areas in the city that may benefit from heritage conservation guidelines.

"A heritage conservation area may establish design controls and may create a list (schedule) of specified properties with-in the area which receive formal protection," stated the report. "Demolition or exterior alteration of scheduled properties must first receive council approval through a heritage alteration permit."

The report notes that the next step is for staff to do preliminary analysis of each of the four proposed areas and determine the most appropriate houses to include in the heritage conservation area.

The city will also contact the residents of each potential heritage conservation area, hold information meetings for residents in the proposed area, consult with the community heritage commission, residents association and community members.

tmcmanus@royalcityrec ord.com

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