Our last blog touched base on the interim procedure as well as the characteristics of a character building. In Part II of the series "Heritage Action Plan Revision", we'll be looking at buildings not on the Heritage Register as well as buildings without character merit or heritage value. 

Homes with character merit and heritage value are encouraged by City policy to be retained even if those homes are not on the Heritage Register. Incentives to home owners include permitting extra density or other relaxations that involve discretion in applying guidelines, polices and regulations. On the flip side, the Planning and Development Department has the authority to approve the demolition of homes with character merit or heritage value at their discretion if the property is underused or the building is structurally unsound.

Until June 15, 2015, demolition of pre-1940 houses in the First Shaughnessy neighbourhood is not permitted. This moratorium is outlined in a bylaw that has been in place since June 11, 2014. It declares a Heritage Control Period in First Shaughnessy which encompasses the area between West 16th Avenue and King Edward & Arbutus and Oak Streets. From now until June 15, 2015, any exterior alterations, structural changes or alterations, excavation or construction on the property will be prohibited unless the property owner has a Heritage Alteration Permit.

Buildings without character merit or heritage value, which will be determined by City staff, are permitted to be demolished. The City encourages the reuse and recycling of construction waste from Pre-1940 homes. The Heritage Action Plan and Construction and Demolition Waste Diversion Strategy provides guidelines for demolition of Pre-1940 Homes so long as they reuse and recycle 75% of the waste.

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The Heritage Action Plan, Heritage Register and guidelines for heritage buildings are in the midst of being updated. A temporary guideline called the Heritage or Character Buildings Review - Interim Procedure is currently being utilized as changes to the guidelines are underway and are pending completion for December 2015. This interim procedure applies to development applications involving pre-1940s buildings and reflects policies that aim to "enhance the retention and rehabilitation of character homes throughout Vancouver and reduce construction waste". By providing incentives rather than penalties, the City encourages owners to retain pre-1940 buildings. Plans to demolish a heritage or character building in Vancouver must be done through a demolition application with particular criteria from the Interim Procedure in which there are varying criteria across the city.

What is a Character Building?
A home constructed prior to 1940 is the basic criterion for preserving homes in the Strathcona, Kitsilano and Mount Pleasant areas. They are considered to be character buildings if they also include at least four of the following elements:

     - original massing and roof form;
     - original open front porch or veranda, or only partially filled in;
     - original claffing or replacement cladding consistent with 1940;
     - period windows (50% or more), with original location, size and shape;
     - original casings or trim (50% or more) such as around windows 
       and doors; and
     - period details or decorative elements (2 or more of brackets, beams,
       joist ends); and
     - other period features (porch, roof, foundation).

Thus, property owners retaining the original buildings in the RT-3, RT-7/8, RT-10, RT-11 and RM-1 Zones are eligible for incentives including increase density and height. The breakdown of the zoning area is found below. 

For a complete zoning map of Vancouver, click here

The interim procedure applies to the aforementioned zoning areas including RS-3 and RS-5 as well as where conditional zoning provisions apply. Conditional zoning areas represent ~23% of one- and two-family zoning areas located in Arbutus, Dunbar and Kerrisdale.

Stay tuned on Part II of the series "Heritage Action Plan Revision".

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Looking back at the housing statistics of Metro Vancouver, there has been a steady increase in demand in the month of March. According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), residential property sales in Greater Vancouver topped out at 4,060 just last month. In comparison to the same month last year, there has been a 53.7% increase in unit sales and a 32.6% increase in comparison to February 2015. It has been noted that there has been strong competition amongst home buyers as there have been multiple offer situations and there has been some upward pressure on home prices. 

5,968 new listings in March for detached, attached and apartment properties within the Metro Vancouver area were recorded. In contrast to March 2014 totals, this represents a 13% increase. However, the total number of properties actively listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service has moved in the opposite direction with a 14.5% decline in comparison to March 2015 listings.

According to the REBGV president, Darcy McLeod, "[t]he number of homes for sale today is below what's typical for this time of year. If you've been considering putting your property on the market, these market conditions indicate that now may be a good time to list".

The Metro Vancouver residential properties benchmark price is currently sitting at $660,700. The sales-to-active-listings ratio is at an all-time high since July 2007 with a ratio of 32.8%.

For all your real estate needs, contact us at info@wesellvancouver.ca or alternatively at 604-801-6654.

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