A group of Shaughnessy homeowners looking to challenge the City of Vancouver’s new Heritage Conservation Area in the neighbourhood have lost their battle in court.
The city created the new bylaw last September, the first of its kind in the city, blocking the demolition of any homes in the First Shaughnessy neighbourhood built before 1940.
That prompted a suit from some owners who felt the city was overstepping its bounds.
But a B.C. Supreme Court ruling today disagreed.
“At first blush, a person might think that this case involves the mundane world of municipal bylaws and their validity. That would be wrong; this case is mostly about money,” states the opening line of Justice Fitzpatrick’s ruling.
In her reasons for judgement, Justice Fitzpatrick states some new owners have shown an immense propensity toward tearing down existing homes and replacing them with new ones , and rejects the suit which was making a claim of “bad faith and misrepresentation” on the part of the city.
However Justice Fitzpatrick ruled nobody was misled in a series of public consultations that took place before the new HCA rules were applied to the historic neighbourhood.
In the wake of the ruling, the City of Vancouver says it’s continuing to “take a balanced approach in working to prevent the demolition of historic homes.”
While the city acted on the First Shaughnessy neighbourhood last year, the issue of demolitions remains a smoldering controversy.
Last spring, the city granted temporary protection to the Vancouver “Electric House,” a West Side home built in 1922 by the same architects who designed city hall, that was facing demolition by its owner.
It comes as many residents complain teardowns have been proceeding at breakneck speed in the city, as investors look to capitalize on the hot housing market.
And it’s not just heritage homes. The demolition of a 20 year old $6-million Shaughnessey mansion drew protests earlier this year.
But it does appear that First Shaughnessy won’t be the last Heritage Conservation Area designated by the city.
Earlier this summer, Councillors agreed to consider granting heritage protection to the Mole Hill community in the West End.
With files from Jeremy Lye