A developer hoping to knock down a 99-year-old heritage home in Carisbrook has been denied a demolition permit – at least for now.
At their final regular council meeting before the summer break, District of North Vancouver council members voted to put a temporary halt on the demolition of the Leslie Residence at 361 East Kings Rd.
The Craftsman bungalow is on the district’s community heritage registry, which allows council to delay demolition and buy time for staff to negotiate with the owner to save the home, but doesn’t give it lasting protection.
Municipalities have had some success negotiating heritage revitalization agreements, which typically involve allowing subdivision of the property or extra density in exchange for restoration and protection of a heritage building.
According to district staff, the owner has indicated he has no intention of keeping the house but he may be amenable to someone else moving or salvaging the structure, as long as he doesn’t incur any costs.
Coun. Mathew Bond urged council to go a step further and order a heritage inspection of the property.
Municipalities can unilaterally enforce heritage protection on a property but they must compensate the owner for the reduced market value of the property as a result. Bond said getting a heritage inspection might be a first step towards finding that the cost of saving the home as-is might be minimal.
“I think that aligns with our goals in our heritage strategic plan and I also think it's useful information for council moving forward,” he said.
Mayor Mike Little said the home’s best hope seems to be getting moved elsewhere and questioned what value would come from an inspection.
“We'll get a paragraph or two about the building, maybe about 50 pictures of the building. It's going to cost us up to $6,000 and it may provide no heritage protection,” he said. “I'm sitting here wondering is this money well spent?”
Everyone else on council agreed with the mayor.
“It’s clearly a special property. It clearly would be a loss to our community … to have this beautiful piece of heritage destroyed,” said Coun. Jim Hanson. “It seems to me, we know all we need to know about the value of the property, the value of the structure. What's at issue now is whether some arrangement can be achieved that preserves it.”
In a letter to council, North Shore Heritage Preservation Society president Peter Miller said the house appears to be in very good condition with much of its architecturally significant features still intact. Miller said the district should follow its own recently adopted heritage strategic plan and push for an HRA.
“We believe that at some point, council needs to make hard decisions that will serve to preserve heritage assets for the community at large, over the concerns of direct neighbours,” he wrote.
If that isn’t possible, the district should at least find a way to mandate the home be salvaged and moved.
“It would be a shame to lose such an architecturally beautiful home to the landfill,” he said.
Coun. Jordan Back lamented that council was being put into the position they were.
“I do kind of wonder why somebody would want to buy a place with such historical relevance and then build new, but they have their reasons,” he said.