Skip to content

Controversial heritage registry draws fire at council workshop

THE District of North Vancouvers move to compile a heritage registry turned into a contentious debate about privacy and civil liberties at a council workshop last week. Currently, the district lists 144 homes on its heritage registry.

THE District of North Vancouvers move to compile a heritage registry turned into a contentious debate about privacy and civil liberties at a council workshop last week.

Currently, the district lists 144 homes on its heritage registry. More than one-third of the homeowners have agreed to be listed.

Following their request, eight homeowners were recently stricken from the registry. The houses were then added to the heritage inventory list.

Other heritage homeowners have not yet responded to the district.

The homes on the registry were selected based on the quality of the architecture, the preservation of the structure, and the historical importance of the site. A home needs to be at least 20 years old to earn heritage status.

Its intentionally adding a layer of red tape to slow the process down, said Coun. Mike Little at the May 28 workshop. Little described the registry as a sober second thought to help the district retain heritage buildings.

Fifty-seven homes have recently been deleted from the heritage registry, either because the houses have been demolished or did not warrant heritage stature, possibly because of additions to the home or other alterations.

The heritage registry will act as a mechanism to alert council when a heritage home is slated for demolition, affording district staff a chance to speak with the homeowner and offer other options. The final decision will belong to the homeowner, Little stressed.

This is a tool for us, Little said.

To what end? asked Coun. Roger Bassam.

I am wholly uncomfortable with this whole process, Bassam said. The idea of putting people on a list without their explicit agreement is of great concern to me.

Council does not have a right to interfere with a homeowners autonomy, according to Bassam.

Adding unwilling or unknowing homeowners to the heritage registry goes against every libertarian sense in my being, Bassam said.

Theres a handful of people who have it in their mind that this is going to be detrimental to their homes value, Little said, discussing the concern that the registry will limit restoration and renovation options for homeowners. It doesnt, he said. It stops them for a moment.

Youve explicitly had people say they dont want anything to do with this program, Bassam said, referring to homeowners he said have asked to have their homes removed from the list only to be added again a few years later.

Little reminded council that the district keeps lists of many homes without offering homeowners an opportunity to opt out of those lists.

We won an award for our GeoWeb and everybodys house is on that, said Coun. Lisa Muri, discussing the district website listing information including property lines, proximity to disaster response routes, and maps of routes used to transport dangerous goods.

Ive never heard anybody complain about it, they embrace it, Muri said.

We need to move forward with this, Muri said, referring to the seven years of debate preceding the implementation of the registry.

The eight homeowners who opted out of the registry may have made their decision due to concerns about redevelopment constrictions connected to heritage status, according to Coun. Alan Nixon. That concern stems from a large misunderstanding based on the previous, stricter heritage designation listing, Nixon said.

Nixon said he was not opposed to a heritage registry, but also had privacy concerns.

The district will likely distribute approximately $1,500 in grants to homeowners on the heritage registry.

Follow us on Twitter: @NorthShoreNews

jshepherd@nsnews.com