First Shaughnessy designated heritage conservation area

In 2015, City Council replaced First Shaughnessy’s official development plan with a heritage conservation area official development plan, a new zoning schedule, a heritage procedure bylaw and a new heritage property standards of maintenance bylaw. The initiatives were intended to preserve the heritage character of pre-1940s homes.

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The area between West 16th Street and King Edward Boulevard, and between Arbutus and Oak streets, is designated as a heritage conservation area. Density bonuses and transfers for additional dwelling uses and units – such as secondary suites, coach houses, infill buildings, laneway houses and multiple-conversion dwellings – are permitted in exchange for heritage preservation. New design guidelines – including provisions on building setbacks, parking and yards – ensure compatibility of new development. Minimum maintenance standards are adopted in response to demolition by neglect.

Designation of a heritage conservation area is a planning tool used in municipalities across North America to identify, manage, and provide long-term protection to heritage resources. Heritage alteration permits are used to allow for changes to heritage properties, and are integrated with a development permit process.
About 60 heritage conservation areas have been designated in British Columbia, with nine in Victoria. Designating First Shaughnessy as a heritage conservation area was considered to set a precedent that could be used in other areas of the City.

However, the designation of First Shaughnessy as a heritage conservation area failed to stop demolitions. Heritage houses continued to be torn down by owners who were not interested in the incentives for preservation offered by the City.

Several homeowners viewed the designation as an infringement on the rights of private property owners. Some filed appeals in court in an attempt to overturn the director of planning’s refusal to issue permits. The City amended the heritage conservation area bylaws in response to the petitions in court, transferring authority to remove a property from the protected list of properties to City Council.

The First Shaughnessy area is a historic Vancouver neighbourhood that was planned by the CPR in 1907. Montreal architect Frederick Todd designed the area to include large houses, well-appointed gardens and estate-size lots. The neighbourhood is highlighted by distinct homes in neo-Tudor, Federal Colonial, and Arts and Crafts styles, and features lush landscaping and mature trees.

First Shaughnessy has 595 properties, with 315 constructed before 1940. Eighty of the properties are currently listed on the Vancouver Heritage Register.

2013 – City Council initiates work on a heritage action plan to update Vancouver’s 1986 Heritage Conservation Program.

2014 – A temporary moratorium on demolitions is put in place in response to a steadily increasing number of demolition permit requests for pre-1940 homes in the First Shaughnessy District. The City begins a review of the First Shaughnessy District.

2015 – City Council approves the Heritage Conservation Area designation for First Shaughnessy.

2016 – Amendments to the Heritage Conservative Area Official Development Plan and related bylaws were approved on Mar. 8, 2016 following court petitions to appeal the refusal of the acting general manger, planning and development to issue permits for demolition. The amendments required City Council approval to remove a property from the list of protected heritage properties. At the public hearing on the proposed amendments on Feb. 23, 2016, two spoke in favour and three pieces of correspondence in support of the amendments were received. Nineteen speakers were opposed and 41 sent in correspondence that was critical of the Heritage Conservation Area or part or all of the proposed amendments. City Council approved the amendments unanimously.

City of Vancouver. Planning and Development policy report on updating Vancouver’s Heritage Conservation program. December 4, 2013. Retrieved from:

City of Vancouver. (2015, September 29). First Shaughnessy designated heritage conservation area. Retrieved from:

City of Vancouver. Heritage Bylaws as amended up to September 29, 2015. Retrieved from: Retrieved from:

City of Vancouver, Planning and Development. Policy report on amendments to Heritage Conservation Area Official Development Plan and related bylaws. January 19, 2016. Retrieved from:

City of Vancouver. (2016. February 23). Public hearing summary and recommendations. Retrieved from:

City of Vancouver (2016, March 8). Regular Council minutes approving amendments to the Heritage Conservation Area Official Development Plan and related bylaws. Retrieved from:

Link to more 2015 emerging milestones