For Immediate Release: Saturday, October 29th, 2011
After 25 years of neglect, Vancouver’s heritage registry is starting to gather dust. COPE City Council Candidates RJ Aquino, Tim Louis and Ellen Woodsworth will make updating the heritage registry a priority at City hall this year.
“We could be demolishing historically significant and irreplaceable buildings without even knowing it,” said Louis. “We shouldn’t be hearing about a buildings historical significance only once it’s up for demolition.”
COPE candidates voiced their message at the corner of Hasting and Heatley Street, where a proposed library development project was met with outrage by the community, who didn’t want to see their century old houses torn down for the project. None of these historic houses appear on the city’s heritage registry.
Considered the cornerstone of the City’s heritage preservation program, the registry was developed in 1986 when Vancouver streets and buildings were surveyed and evaluated according to their architectural and/or historical significance. For a site to be designated as heritage, it has to be identified as having heritage value or character and be at least 20 years old.
“25 years is a long time. Our understanding of history and heritage has no doubt changed during that time. We need to make sure that this understanding is reflected in the neighbourhoods and communities that make up Vancouver,” said Aquino. “Recognizing our city’s heritage in important in creating stronger communities.”
“Vancouver is developing incredibly quickly. We need to ensure that this development doesn’t erase our past. When heritage is lost to development, it is lost forever,” added Louis.
The Heritage Vancouver Society has been calling for an update to the registry for over 10 years. Every year, they create a top-ten list of Vancouver’s most endangered heritage sites and a number of the sites on this years list do not appear on the Vancouver heritage registry.
The registry was supposed to have been updated in 2007 however the project never moved forward due to budget constraints.
“COPE is committed to working with the City along with other community groups to make sure this gets done. If we aren’t able to survey the entire city in one go, then maybe we focus on a couple of key areas to begin with and go from there,” said Woodsworth. “We need to get the ball rolling on this before Vancouver’s history is turned to rubble.”