The stakes were so small, that from some angles, they were invisible. West Vancouver council was mulling an infill home, 1,500 square feet or so, tucked behind the 95-year-old Hewitt House on Radcliffe Avenue.
The infill house would have kept a family together and guaranteed the preservation of a Craftsman cottage that was built when the Lions Gate Bridge was only an idea. And looking through the foliage, most people wouldn’t have known that an infill house was even there.
But, following Coun. Marcus Wong’s 11th hour reversal, council rejected it. Despite providing a small service for local history and a great opportunity for a local family, a majority of council was swayed by phantom concerns around neighbourhood sensitivity.
We don’t decry this decision just because we worry about losing gabled roofs and shed dormers, lovely as they are. Right now, West Vancouver’s vacancy rates are low, its housing types are as diverse as a Trump rally and its prices are inhospitable for anyone who’s ever had to wash their hands after a day’s work.
This infill house was, quite literally, the least they could do. And they didn’t.
Tantalus Gardens, a revolutionary 14-unit project earmarked for Horseshoe Bay, was scuttled last week after outcry about preserving a church that closed six years earlier. As long as the majority of council blows with the fickle wind of neighbourhood sentiment, we’ll lose the opportunity to build something as real and lasting as the Hewitt house. The stakes were small this time. But they’ll get bigger.
It’s regrettable when a council dismisses history. It’s unforgivable for a council to overlook the future.
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