Heritage Vancouver - Bulletin

Heritage Updates & Events for Oct 1, 2010

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This issue:
+ Historic Areas
+ Updates on Success Stories
+ Threatened Sites Updates
+ Top Ten – Call for Nominations
+ Our Upcoming Events


+ Vancouver’s Historic Areas: Gastown and Chinatown

The Heritage Success Story we are celebrating this week is the Wing Sang Building located at 51 East Pender in Vancouver’s Historic Chinatown. The Wing Sang is an outstanding example of a heritage building that has been readapted for modern use while at the same time preserving its historic character and context in Chinatown. This type of restoration project is a significant contribution to creating a future for Vancouver ‘s Historic Areas.

While we applaud and celebrate the successful Wing Sang restoration, we are concerned that lack of enforcement of the City of Vancouver’s existing Historic Area policies will lead to the gradual disintegration of Old Vancouver. Based on their response to a current application, the City is apparently unwilling to enforce the Gastown Heritage Management Plan and the design guidelines for the HA-2 Heritage Area. It appears that heritage policies are being over-ruled in favour of housing issues.

This week we feature a Heritage Vancouver letter to the City of Vancouver regarding a proposed development on a vacant lot at 60 West Cordova Street. Despite its desirable objectives, this project does not conform to heritage area guidelines, does not refer to historic precedent and offers no heritage conservation benefit to the Gastown area. Development designs that do not meet either the zoning intent or the design guidelines of the Historic Areas should not proceed.

During the recent City of Vancouver height studies, additional height and density in the historic areas was rejected, yet the City continues to entertain and process developments that are out-of-character with heritage guidelines. Heritage Vancouver strongly urges the City, as custodian of our Historic Areas, to ensure proper land use management decisions that will preserve, rather than detract from, their heritage character.

> Read our letter for 60 East Cordova Street


+ A Heritage Success Story:
Wing Sang Building – “Everything is Going to be alright”

Garden Party - Wing Sang recognition

Walter Francl, architect for the Wing Sang project was recognized for the successful restoration of the Wing Sang Building at Heritage Vancouver's Annual Garden Party.  

Seen in the photo above (click to view larger on Flickr) from left to right, Vancouver City Councilor, Suzanne Anton, Heritage Vancouver President, Donald Luxton, Walter Francl, Walter Francl Architectural Group, Vancouver City Councilor, Heather Deal, and Vancouver Mayor, Gregor Robertson.

Heritage Vancouver would like to recognize Bob Rennie for the vision he has demonstrated in the rehabilitation of the Wing Sang Building at 51 East Pender Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Rennie undertook the Wing Sang project as a labour of love, and now uses this historic building to house his office and personal art gallery. In rescuing and restoring this landmark building, Rennie has preserved one of Vancouver’s most important heritage buildings and has contributed to ensuring a future for Historic Chinatown.

The Wing Sang building has had a long and storied history. Originally built by Chinatown entrepreneur Yip Sang as a two story “Victorian Italianate” structure in 1889, it was expanded in 1901 over four lots to include a three storey building in front. The 1901 renovations, by architect Thomas Ennor Julian, almost completely enveloped it, but the cornice, windows and brickwork of the original two-story building can still be distinguished. In 1910, a six story structure was added to the rear to accommodate his growing business and family

The Wing Sang building is marked by several architectural oddities which differentiate it from adjacent buildings. The building was constructed before the street in front was paved, resulting in the main floor being several steps below street level. And, an upper storey boasts a door seemingly leading to nowhere. Originally leading to an arcaded balcony, this door was later used to convey goods being hoisted from the street into the building. When the Wing Sang building ceased being a warehouse, the door was no longer needed but still remains.

After remaining vacant since the mid-1970s, the Wing Sang building was sold in 2001 to developer Ewen Stewart who promised any new development would incorporate the original 1889 building which was protected by both provincial and city heritage designations. The building was sold again in 2004 to Bob Rennie. Although the building was intact when Rennie bought it, the six story structure added in 1910 was in extremely poor shape and someone had absconded with the flooring from the original 1889 building – flooring which had been comprised of six-meter long pieces of old growth fir.

Extensive renovations and a restored front façade are now complete. The heritage centrepiece is the new boardroom on the 3rd floor that had been a schoolroom for Yip Sang’s children and remains virtually unchanged since it was built in 1901. Among the more dramatic changes to the Wing Sang building, is the addition of an illuminated art installation by artist Martin Creed declaring “everything is going to be alright”.

And for the Wing Sang, it is definitely alright.


+ Heritage Updates:

UBC Renew Success Story

Heritage Vancouver apologizes for the omission of Busby Perkins+Will the architect for the Buchanan project at UBC, from our August 27th e-bulletin. We would like to take this opportunity to commend Busby Perkins+Will for their excellence in heritage restoration architecture. View the revised article.

Heritage Vancouver would also like to thank UBC for their recent article, "UBC recognized by Heritage Vancouver for building revival program".


Jericho Wharf (Top Ten Endangered list 2003)

In 2009 the Vancouver Park Board announced its plans to restore a portion of the Jericho Wharf. Prior to this decision Heritage Vancouver wrote a letter requesting that the Park Board undertake a Statement of Significance to determine the heritage significance of the Wharf. Even though this is a standard heritage conservation practice, the Park Board declined our request. The Park Board is not obliged to follow the City of Vancouver’s heritage processes and they have not developed their own. Heritage Vancouver was concerned at the time that without a Statement of Significance they had no basis to determine which portion of the wharf may be historically significant and should be retained. They still have no basis for making an appropriate and informed decision on the heritage value of this site.

No work has been done on the wharf since that time, it is cordoned off and two Park Board commissioners are now calling for its demolition. We urge the Park Board to take immediate action to commission a Statement of Significance and depending on the outcome, preserve all or a portion of the Wharf before it becomes a case of demolition by neglect.

Our 2003 Top Ten article

Province Article from Sept 13, 2010, Parks commissioners call for demolition of Jericho Beach wharf (PDF, 131k)

Press release, Vancouver Park Board Commissioners Call For Immediate Action to Remove Wharf at Jericho Beach


Motel 2400 (Top Ten Endangered list 2006)

The Motel 2400 is threatened with demolition. The site is included in the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre and has been discussed in great detail as part of the planning process. The planners are looking at bringing plan level policies that will inform the redevelopment of the site to City Council this fall. Any rezoning of the Motel 2400 site will require a rezoning application and there will be consultation with the heritage community as part of this process. As things stand we anticipate that there will be little if any retention proposed for Motel 2400.

Our 2006 Top Ten article

Georgia Straight August 25, 2010 article

Heritage Vancouver invites your point of view on this site. What are your ideas? Do you support full retention of the site, retention of the office, the sign and one of the motel buildings, just the sign or nothing at all? info@heritagevancouver.org


The Bloedel Conservatory is saved  (Top Ten Endangered list 2010)

Final approval for the Friends of Bloedel/ VanDusen Botanical Garden Association (VBGA) proposal was obtained, September 20, from Vancouver Park Board. This means the Bloedel Conservatory will remain in public hands and operated jointly by the Park Board and the VBGA. The group, Friends of the Bloedel, will become a committee under the umbrella of VanDusen.

The target date for completion of details of the Operating Plan is November 1, 2010, but the VBGA has been given the 'green light' to move forward and get plans for increased marketing, education, events, etc. officially underway.

View our 2010 Top Ten article


+ Top Ten Endangered Sites – Call for Nominations for 2011

Heritage Vancouver is now accepting nominations for endangered sites for the 2011 Top Ten list. Do you know of a site, structure, street or neighbourhood that appears to be in danger of demolition or defacement, or is deteriorating through neglect?  Let us know why it is important and why it is threatened.  Please provide information to before November 1st to info@heritagevancouver.org

See our Top Ten 2010 Endangered Sites list


+ Upcoming Events

Annual General Meeting & Reception
Thursday, October 21, 2010
6:30pm to 9:00pm | AGM begins at 6:30pm

Join Heritage Vancouver at the Museum of Vancouver on Thursday, October 21st for our Annual General Meeting and Reception. This year’s AGM which begins at 6:30pm will be governed by new bylaws passed at our 2009 AGM. A copy of the bylaws is linked below for your information. All members in good standing as of October 21st are entitled to vote at the AGM. Nominations to the board are now closed and under the new bylaws there are  no nominations at the meeting.

View/download the new bylaws (PDF, 82k)

We welcome members, friends, supporters and anyone interested in finding out more about Heritage Vancouver to our reception from 7:00pm – 9:00 pm. The evening is an opportunity to mix and mingle with old friends and colleagues while enjoying a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception. We look forward to seeing you at our AGM which is always a fun time and a great social event.


Heritage Vancouver’s – A Victorian Christmas Party
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Time: 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Location: Roedde House Museum, 1415 Barclay Street
Admission: There is no admission for this event

You are invited to attend Heritage Vancouver’s annual Christmas Party at Roedde House Museum. Come and celebrate the season with members, volunteers, donors and friends in this West End historic house decorated for a Victorian style Christmas.  We ask you to come bring your favourite appetizer or dessert to share and join in the festivities of the season.

Thank you for your support!

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Heritage Vancouver Society
PO Box 3336, Main Post Office, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 3Y3
604 254-9411 info@heritagevancouver.org

Creating a Future for Heritage – Heritage Vancouver encourages the community to preserve, restore, and appreciate Vancouver’s heritage structures.