City weighs options regarding fire-damaged heritage home

3737 Angus Dr., damaged in suspicious fire, now sits exposed to the elements

The City of Vancouver is looking into its options after the owner of fire-damaged home in the First Shaughnessy Heritage Conservation Area failed to meet a deadline to install a protective covering to shield the home from the elements.

Located at 3737 Angus Dr., the home was damaged in a suspicious fire last October. The city examined the home on Oct. 27, 2017 and noted the roof structure was extensively damaged, but the lower level openings were all boarded and perimeter fencing and 24-hour security was in place.

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Since the house is in the Heritage Conservation Area, and is a protected heritage property, it’s subject to the Heritage Property Standards of Maintenance bylaw.

The city told the Courier a structural engineer representing the property owner determined the building could be salvaged following a site visit in late October — an assessment that was supported by a city district building inspector.

On Nov. 1, the city ordered the owner to install the protective covering over the building to minimize weather and water damage.

Since then, the owner asked for extensions, informing the city that the extent and nature of the damage requires selective demolition of the damaged sections, which will require more time to complete to address WorkSafeBC requirements due to structural and material hazards.

The city granted those requests and gave a Feb. 16 deadline to comply with the Nov. 1 order.

The city inspected the home after Feb. 16 and found that the owner had not complied with the order.

But the Heritage Property Standards of Maintenance bylaw doesn’t contain a provision for the city to do the work at the owner’s expense. Any change to that bylaw would require amendments to the Vancouver Charter. This would need to be approved by the province, according to the city.

“The city is currently reviewing its options which include referring this matter for prosecution for failure to comply with an order under the Heritage Property Standards of Maintenance Bylaw,” city spokesman Jag Sandhu told the Courier in an email.

The city could also apply for an injunction asking the court to force the owner to do the work.

Meanwhile, under the bylaw, any alteration of a protected heritage property requires a heritage alteration permit (HAP) from the director of planning. Bylaw procedures state the director of planning can refuse to issue a heritage alteration permit if it detracts from the heritage value or heritage character of a protected heritage property.

“So, on this basis, the [director of planning] could refuse a HAP application to significantly alter/demolish/replace the protected heritage building because it would negatively impact the building’s heritage value/character, but would support a HAP to rebuild/reconstruct damaged components,” Sandhu wrote.


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