District of West Vancouver officials will give the go-ahead for a permit for the demolition of a heritage home on Mathers Avenue. In October, West Vancouver council voted to give a temporary protection of 60 days for the Webb House at 2495 Mathers Avenue.
That protection meant the owner could not demolish the house to build a new single-family home with a secondary suite as planned—at least not for 60 days until staff discussed options with the owner on how to preserve the house.
Designed by William Webb, it was built in 1949 and was noted as a support house in the West Vancouver survey of Significant Architecture. It first went for sale in 2016 for close to $3 million, touted by the realtor as a ‘charismatic bungalow’ with partial ocean views in sought-after Dundarave.
With the protection now gone and the owner uninterested, the Webb House will be the second such heritage home in the last two years to get erased from the district’s history.
In November last year, McClelland House, a heritage home that was built in 1919, in theAltamount neighbourhood also could not be saved for history. Built by a marine engineer for his wife, Georgina McClelland, it was described as a ‘gracious house’ known for its combination of Tudor revival and Craftsman style.
In the case of McClelland house, the council had agreed to a staff request for a temporary 60 days protection so they could negotiate a Heritage Revitalisation Agreement (HRA), but were unsuccessful.
HRA typically offer extra density or the possibility of another home on the lot provided the owner agrees to restore or protect the heritage home. Another historical property, Rockhaven House in West Bay, fell to similar fate last year when an agreement couldn’t be worked out between the district and the new owners.
Rockhaven House, along with the Webb House and the McClelland house were among the 171 heritage properties listed in the West Vancouver Heritage register, which was created in 2007. The registry enables a municipality to manage its heritage by responding to applications for alterations or demolition.
More importantly, it allows the local government to offer incentives to encourage private-sector conservation, typically through a quid pro quo HRA agreement.
Such agreements between the owners and the district have been successfully negotiated in the past, in most recently in Ambleside and Horseshoe Bay. Last year, the council approved the Heritage Revitalization Agreement and Heritage Designation for a home in the Cedardale area of the district.
Built along the Lawson Creek watershed in 1927, the Sutherland House is valued for its connection to the early development of the Hollyburn area. Considered an early example of residential architecture in the neighbourhood, it was also the first house to be constructed on this block.
As part of a HRA with the district, the owners of Sutherland House at 1768 Inglewood Avenue were able to subdivide the property in such a way as to retain the Sutherland house as a municipally-designated heritage building, and construct a new single-family dwelling on the southern lot.
Similarly, the new owners of the ‘Vinson House,’ a craftsman style historical house in Ambleside, were able to protect the house signing a Heritage Revitalisation Agreement with the district. In exchange, the property owner were allowed to add extra units on the site. Similar agreements have been signed for 1964 Sykes Residence and 5616 Westport Place.
Photo: Peter Miller