Protecting Vancouver's Heritage

We often have people ask us about the cute little bungalows and older homes that end up on our Open House list. Many Vancouverites are concerned about whether or not the home will be turned into multi-unit development, or have a new build on the land. With that in mind, we decided to look into the City of Vancouver procedures and mandate for Heritage homes –what constitutes heritage status, and what is the overall plan for keeping historical buildings in tact.


Vancouver’s aesthetic beauty is central to what makes it a desirable place to live, and something that does need to be protected. We have a huge diversity of neighbourhoods, with residents who treasure the individual character of each one, and are often concerned with how to ensure the preservation of this character.  As we’ve mentioned, there has been considerable and ongoing controversy around the demolition and redevelopment of heritage neighbourhoods and sites in Vancouver. As a city experiencing growth at the rate we are, many high-density neighbourhoods such as Gastown, Yaletown, and most recently Mount Pleasant have been called-out for gentrification and a devaluing of the importance of preserving the character of the neighbourhood. Often, property taxes become too high for owners to maintain properties that house heritage buildings. When they are forced to sell, developers with different priorities purchase these properties, and demolish character buildings as a necessary part of redevelopment projects. The concern of Vancouver’s citizens has inspired the The City of Vancouver to take stock.

In January of this year, a number of provisions were slated for review by the city of Vancouver in order to ensure the maintenance of our city’s character through the preservation of heritage sites, and incentives for developers to re-purpose existing structures. Started in 2013, the City’s ‘Heritage Action Plan’ is under review. By upgrading the heritage register, reviewing character home zoning policies, increasing sustainability initiatives, and implementing awareness and advocacy initiatives, the City of Vancouver hopes to ease local concern over the preservation of heritage buildings and increase the number of renovation projects undertaken by developers. Many of these policies will make it more expensive for developers to demolish homes built before 1940, which encourages redevelopment and renovation over demolition.

These initiatives have been most visibly effective in areas such as Shaughnessy, Kitsilano, Yaletown, and Gastown. By the end of 2015, the City intends to have an updated set of policies that will placate concerns on the part of developers and citizens alike, keeping our city, bright, beautiful, and unique.  

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