Memorandum: Heritage Action Plan Reccomendations

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21
Nov
2016

On November 18, 2016, the Vancouver City Planning Commission submitted this memorandum to city staff on the preliminary Heritage Action Plan recommendations by Donald Luxton & Associates.

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Photograph by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation

Following the Heritage Action Plan advisory committee meeting on October 18, members of the Vancouver City Planning Commission reviewed the preliminary recommendations of Donald Luxton & Associates.

We appreciated the opportunity to review the recommendations and would like to accept the offer of a short staff presentation to the VCPC.

In the meantime, we offer the following observations:

We would like to commend the recommendations calling for heritage conservation to be identified as a civic priority, for a heritage conservation lens to be applied on city priorities, initiatives and policies, and for strategic partnerships to be established with non-government organizations.

We also have some concerns. Our main issue is with the deferral of efforts to streamline the process of heritage conservation to the medium and long term. On the contrary, this needs to be an immediate first step.

The most significant problem with heritage conservation is the lengthy delays in the process. Heritage projects seem to be penalized by additional hoops that add a lot of time to the process. This has become exponentially worse in the last few years; what used to take three months to get a permit is now taking up to two years, particularly if a heritage revitalization agreement is involved. In today's heightened real estate market, the carrying costs can be punishing, further deterring prospective heritage restorations.

Also, we would like to express some concern about the recommendation that only members of the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals be in charge of heritage projects. Many people have significant experience and knowledge in heritage restoration and are not part of the association. The requirement would be an unnecessary encumbrance on the process of heritage protection.

Concerning the recommendation pertaining to the gaps in the heritage register, we would like to see the recommendation include a reference to modern architecture as well as to women, first nations and ethno-cultural communities.

We look forward to an opportunity to discuss these recommendations with staff in the New Year, or to review the complete report including the staff recommendations when it is available.