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West Vancouver approves heritage deal

It’s in with the new and in with the old too in West Vancouver.

It’s in with the new and in with the old too in West Vancouver.

Council voted unanimously Monday night to allow an Upper Ambleside property owner to subdivide his residential lot and build a new home, in exchange for heritage designation and permanent protection of the 1927 Sutherland House.

The Craftsman style home at 1768 Inglewood Ave. has been adapted over the years from the small cottage built by James and Winifred Sutherland to the larger home it is today but it has retained its heritage value thanks to its rustic esthetic, half-timbering, log cabin siding and stone cladding which “echo the surrounding verdant environment of the Lawson Creek watershed,” according to a heritage consultant’s report. The project has the backing of the North Shore Heritage Preservation Society.

Following the agreement, the owner will now be able to build a 2,700-square foot, two-storey home on the south side of the treed and sloping lot. The new lot requires variances for its height and proximity to the property line as well as a “panhandle” bisecting the property to give the new home some frontage on Inglewood.

Heritage revitalization agreements that give incentives to preserve heritage buildings, usually in the form of increases in density, are increasingly common in B.C. municipalities.

A contingent of neighbours did show up to speak against the project at a public hearing Monday night, most of them citing concerns about a loss of privacy, increased vehicle traffic through the lane, the blocking of views of green space and casting of shadows. They also suggested the heritage revitalization agreement would create a lavish $2-million windfall for the owner, where a smaller coach house would be more suitable.

“I embrace heritage as much or more than anybody in the community,” said John Lee, who lives across the lane from the proposed new home. “This new proposal however is a complete deal-breaker. It is way outside the tolerant zone of most people who live in a single-family area of West Vancouver.”

Sharron Tsangarakis, who lives three doors away, however, said the project had her support because it would add diverse housing stock to the neighbourhood.

“Smaller homes are welcome given the monsters that are appearing in our neighbourhood, and there have been quite a few built lately,” she said.
Council sided with the heritage advocates.

Coun. Bill Soprovich visited the site for a 45-minute walkabout on the weekend and said he couldn’t find how anyone’s privacy would be compromised as a result.

Coun. Craig Cameron, who also lives in the neighbourhood, said he couldn’t agree with any of the arguments against granting a heritage revitalization agreement as proposed.

“I think all of council agrees that heritage is important and the alternative here is that the house would just be demolished, in all likelihood,” he said, noting that the owner could build something that’s 2,000 square feet larger than Sutherland House plus the new house combined. “We need to be flexible and realistic and in this situation, the alternative is not something that would be better for the neighbourhood or the community at large.”

He also rubbished the notion that the decision would hurt the value of the neighbours’ real estate holdings.

“I heard a suggestion that somehow, this is going to impact property values. I don’t know that there’s any support for that.

I can’t see that anyone in West Vancouver right now has any grounds to complain about their property values being negatively affected,” he said.