Rockhaven House on the rocks

Heritage advocates are lamenting the pending demise of Rockhaven House, a classic home on the West Bay waterfront.

District of West Vancouver council had denied, at least temporarily, a developer’s request to demolish the 1929 home at 3612 Marine Dr. in order see if the owners would consider a heritage revitalization agreement. Typically that involves granting more density for the property in exchange for restoration and permanent protection of a heritage building.

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But, with the deadline passed last week, no arrangement could be made, according to the district.

“Planning staff have spoken with a representative of the owners and they have assessed options for protection in exchange for development rights, but my understanding is that they did not wish to pursue this any further and they have applied for a demolition permit, which is within their rights to do,” said Jeff McDonald, district spokesman, in an email. “The temporary reprieve was the limit of council’s power.”

The home was built by a local railway contractor who also owned Rockhaven Kennels, according to a report to council filed in February. Although it did not have any formal bylaw protection, the district considered it a “secondary heritage resource” due to its character-defining shingle siding, leaded glass windows and prominent chimney that comprise its “eclectic” architecture.

But heritage advocates say the home had been reduced to shambles.

“I’m a retired architect. I can look at the outside of the building and see that the ridge of the roof has been deliberately ripped open. And I can see that guttering and downpipes have been deliberately removed. There’s no doubt about it. And the chimney stack, which was a lovely brick chimney has been completely toppled down,” said Peter Miller, president of North Shore Heritage.

Miller said the district should take a more active role in stopping the degradation, whether deliberate or through neglect, of buildings that it considers to be primary and secondary resources. “West Vancouver has lost an iconic corner, which was familiar to everybody that travelled on Marine Drive between Horseshoe Bay and (the heart of) West Vancouver.”

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