Residents in West End neighbourhood hope for heritage protection

Click to play video: 'Saving Mole Hill’s heritage homes' Saving Mole Hill’s heritage homes
WATCH: Saving a community’s character homes is a constant struggle — particularly now in Metro Vancouver’s red hot real estate market. The proposal to build and redevelop a couple of homes in the Vancouver heritage neighbourhood of Mole Hill, has been met with some serious opposition – Jun 11, 2016

Residents of one West End Vancouver neighbourhood are fighting to preserve their community’s character – a tall order, in this city’s red hot real estate market.

“Everybody that I know when they come to visit and they see the block and they see the laneway, which is so beautiful with all the gardens, it’s just so nice. It’s like a little green oasis in the middle of the city,” said Tanie Laramie, one of many who calls Mole Hill home.

The neighbourhood is a collection of heritage homes on Pendrell, Bute, Thurlow and Comox Streets. Some of the buildings date back to the late 1800s. About half are owned by the city and used as affordable housing.

However, six homes in the neighbourhood are privately owned, and recent development proposals are raising concerns.

“I’m not against properties being redeveloped, I just want them to fit the look of the block to be not a big overpowering box that is right next to a beautiful heritage home,” Laramie said.

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City staff are considering two proposals involving homes in Mole Hill – both of them infill buildings on Comox Street.

Advocates are pushing for a Heritage Conservation Area designation for Mole Hill, adding they want to keep its heritage intact from curb to laneway.

“I’m concerned that some of the redevelopment proposals will be built right up to the property line at the back and sometimes the proposals are actually as high as three-and-a-half, or four storeys high,” said Quentin Wright, executive director at Mole Hill Community Housing Society.

He and others say the designation will help keep the look and size of infill buildings in check, ensuring they mirror the heritage houses around them.

Mole Hill on council’s agenda

Over at city hall, Mole Hill is on the agenda for this week’s meeting, by way of a notice of motion asking staff to explore all options.

“As well look at the possibility and the pros and cons of putting a moratorium on any demolitions in the interim if the heritage conservation area is a route that they recommend we explore,” said Councillor Adriane Carr, who’ll be introducing the motion.

“You’ll have to look at my motions in the last four and half years. I’ve never had one motion go to council where a Vision [Vancouver] councillor has seconded it, but Heather Deal of Vision seconded this motion.”

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