Bulletin - Heritage Vancouver Society

Release: 2012 Top Ten Endangered Sites

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Our 12th Annual Heritage Vancouver Society
2012 Top Ten Endangered Sites

2012 Top 10 Endangered SitesVancouver's Main Post Office is at the top of the list. Faced with imminent closure, there is no guarantee that the heritage value of this modernist landmark will be recognized. Will this enormous structure be sold for maximum land value? Will the federal government recognize the potential of this landmark to provide desperately-needed cultural and amenity space in the increasingly dense downtown core? Its uniquely robust structure, built for the use of trucks to move mail, offers unparalleled opportunities for rehabilitation. The public debate about this site should recognize the high quality of its architecture, its unique functional layout and its heritage significance as a postwar landmark.

Our other Top Ten sites for this year demonstrate a variety of issues, including ongoing difficulties associated with the Heritage Density Bank – frozen since August 2007 – as well as the lack of a start date for the long-promised, long-awaited update of the outdated Vancouver Heritage Register. Some heritage sites are also threatened by current city policies that try to wring maximum public benefits out of many sites through extra density. Significantly, there are several new neighbourhood plans that are underway that could have serious impacts on local heritage resources, but no mechanisms for updating the Register in those areas. Over the next year, we will be actively involved in these plans, and other community initiatives.

These ten endangered sites represent the many challenges that we face in building a future for heritage in Vancouver..

Overview list of our 2012 Top 10 Endangered Sites


Overview brochure (PDF) from our Top 10 Bus Tour held May 5, 2012.

You can also view our previous Top Ten sites from 2001 to 2011.

Main Post Office  

1. Main Post Office (1958)

The opening of the Main Post Office in 1958 marked a new phase in Vancouver's development and growth as a regional centre in the postwar era. Today however, more than 50 years after this complex opened to the public, Canada Post's operations have changed so extensively that a new Regional Mail Handling Facility is under construction near the airport, leaving the future of this fine building in doubt. The federal government plans to sell the building and to date, no potential buyer has agreed to purchase and save this public landmark.

> see full details


Historic Movie Theatres  

2. Historic Movie Theatres

The last of our historic movie theatres are closing, leading to the loss of beloved neighbourhood landmarks and cultural spaces. Hollywood (1935), Ridge (1949).

> see full details


St. Paul's Hospital  

3. St. Paul's Hospital: Historic Burrard Building

The historic Burrard Building at St. Paul's Hospital is in a state of decay. Unless the Provincial Government approves the St. Paul's Renewal Concept Plan to secure the future viability of the Hospital, and provides funding to seismically upgrade and restore the landmark Burrard Building, the Burrard Building is in grave danger of eventual demolition.

> see full details


Schools: Sir James Douglas  

4. Schools: Sir James Douglas Elementary (1910-12)

We recognize that much progress has been made on the issue of seismic upgrading, and can report improved communication with the Vancouver School Board. The lack of a comprehensive and detailed plan for the future of Vancouver's historic schools, however, continues to be a serious threat to many long-standing community landmarks. A number of our historic schools are still facing the risk of demolition; as an illustration of this issue, this year Heritage Vancouver has chosen to focus on Sir James Douglas Elementary at 7550 Victoria Drive.

> see full details


Strathcona North  

5. Strathcona North - Vancouver's First Neighbourhood

The heritage and character of Strathcona North of Hastings continue to face possible erosion due to continuing pressure to build social housing and other amenities in this area. One of Vancouver's oldest houses at 502 Alexander Street is currently under threat of demolition, and other houses at 412 and 414 Alexander may face a similar future if they are not protected. The City's recently-initiated Planning Process in this area presents a unique opportunity to recognize and celebrate the heritage and history of this historic neighbourhood.

> see full details



6. Shaughnessy: Land Speculation

A recent trend on the real estate market to sell property for land value alone has the potential to seriously harm the character of First and Second Shaughnessy neighbourhoods through loss of heritage properties. Realtors are advertising historic mansions as teardowns with the opportunity to "build your own dream home". Heritage Vancouver has selected three homes to represent this growing concern in Shaughnessy.

> see full details


Wilmar Estate  

7. Wilmar Estate (1925)

On 11 February 2012, through a front-page article in the Vancouver Province, followed by segments on CBC radio and television, the public was alerted to the potential demolition of the Wilmar Estate in Southlands. It was reported in the media that the mansion required $5 million worth of upgrading to meet current building codes. These wildly exaggerated costs, the prime location of this 9,000-square-foot house and the sprawling garden on almost one hectare, has led to speculation about site redevelopment. Only one side of the story was covered. It was not reported that Wilmar, which is listed on the City of Vancouver's Heritage Register, could be retained and rehabilitated economically through incentives and sensitive new infill on the estate lands.

> see full details


West End Housing  

8. West End Housing

The renewed pressure to develop more housing in the historic West End is increasing the threat to replace low-rise heritage buildings with higher density rental and condominium buildings. The City's introduction of the Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing (STIR) Program, the imminent demolition of the Legg Mansion and the absence of a number of significant buildings from the Heritage Register all pose a potential threat to the heritage and character of the West End. The houses located at 1301, 1309, and 1315 Davie Street and 1161 Broughton Street, built between 1900 and 1906, represent buildings that have heritage merit but have not yet been included on the heritage register.

> see full details



9. Grandview Neighbourhood

In 2012, the City of Vancouver began the development of a new Grandview Woodlands Community Plan that will impact the future of the Grandview neighbourhood's heritage resources. Heritage Vancouver is involved with the Plan and will participate in charting a direction that preserves Grandview's heritage character. The historic character of Grandview is potentially threatened if many of its heritage buildings, particularly those not listed on the City of Vancouver's Heritage Register, are demolished to make way for new housing. There are also many other aspects of neighbourhood heritage character, such as early commercial buildings and majestic street trees, which could be lost over time if there is no plan for their conservation.

> see full details


Granville Street  

10. Downtown Granville Street (800-1200 blocks)

The unique, low-scale character of the historic Granville streetscape continues to be threatened from development pressures and a desire to "clean up" the area. A number of Victorian and Edwardian buildings are up for sale. The current zoning, which was designed to retain lower heights and density along the street, is being eroded in the wake of recent City approvals of spot zoning for affordable housing.

> see full details



Other Upcoming Events:

Full info at heritagevancouver.org

Heritage Vancouver's 8th Annual Garden Party:
A Fundraising Event on Behalf of Heritage Vancouver

Monday, June 25, 2012 | 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Tickets: $100 donation to Heritage Vancouver Society
Join special guest, City Councillor Geoff Meggs and Heritage Vancouver for a spectacular evening of wine, hors d'oeuvres, and conversation in Suzanne and Olin Anton's Kerrisdale garden.
Full info + Tickets via Paypal


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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.