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#1 gumgum

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 08:33 AM

Registry a tool to protect Fairfield area's character

Bill Cleverley, Times Colonist
Published: Monday, March 19, 2007

More than 200 houses and apartment buildings in Fairfield have been identified as contributing to the historic character of the neighbourhood and may be singled out for registry.

The properties are identified in a Fairfield Heritage Registry evaluation just completed by the city.

"What happens now is there will be meetings with the neighbourhood inviting property owners if they wish to consider being placed on the registry or if they wish to request designation. We don't do either without a property owner's permission," Coun. Pam Madoff said.

More than 200 houses and apartment buildings in Fairfield have been identified as contributing to the historic character of the neighbourhood and may be singled out for registry.

The properties are identified in a Fairfield Heritage Registry evaluation just completed by the city.

"What happens now is there will be meetings with the neighbourhood inviting property owners if they wish to consider being placed on the registry or if they wish to request designation. We don't do either without a property owner's permission," Coun. Pam Madoff said.
The evaluation report to council last week lists a number of building styles that help characterize Fairfield neighbourhoods including: Victorian Gothic, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Colonial Bungalow, British Arts and Crafts, Edwardian Vernacular, Craftsman, California/Mission, Four-Square Italianate Vernacular, Tudor Revival, Georgian Revival, Edwardian Classical, Norman Village/Storybook, Old English Cotswold Cottage, English Rural Vernacular, Spanish Colonial Revival, Art Deco, Art Moderne and International Style.

Fairfield itself is defined as being bounded to the east by St. Charles Street and the Gonzales neighbourhood, to the north by Meares, Cook and Richardson streets and the Rockland neighbourhood, to the west by Beacon Hill Park and to the south by Juan de Fuca Strait.

Within Fairfield are six distinct character areas: Cathedral Hill, the Humboldt Valley, Beacon Hill Park, North Fairfield, South Fairfield and Ross Bay.

The evaluation is exhaustive and notes historical values in aspects ranging from different architectural styles, to neighbourhood characteristics such as various ecclesiastical social (educational) and retail areas and even the wide boulevards and horse chestnut trees planted on Cook Street. A neighbourhood's character is defined by more than just architecture, Madoff said. For example, topography can factor in defining what makes an area special.

"I got a number of calls from people when blasting started on Moss Rocks, and we don't have anything that provides even any guidance to redevelopment in those areas," she said.

"As long as you meet minimum lot size you can build a duplex with no design guidelines and with absolutely no reference to the fact that there is an existing character in the neighbourhood. So that's something I hope will be addressed by our planning staff in concert with heritage planners."

The issue could be addressed through the creation of heritage conservation areas or planning areas that could reference form and character as redevelopment concerns, she said.

Listing on the registry only occurs with the owner's concurrence and doesn't interfere with the property owner's rights, Madoff said.

"If you're on the registry and you wish to make changes to your home it would mean those changes would have to be considered by the city but for comment only," Madoff said.

The evaluation notes Fairfield's character is fragile and changing quickly.

"Dallas Road is an area that I'm very concerned about," said Madoff.

"To this point, Dallas Road from Cook to Clover Point is remarkably intact and the form and character of that neighbourhood is synonymous with Fairfield. Yet we're seeing from Clover Point down to the Ross Bay Cemetery a lot of redevelopment that, personally, I wouldn't want to see at the west end of the neighbourhood.

"Yet we don't have any mechanisms that provide any input to an applicant, even to say that there is a neighbourhood character that they might wish to respond to."


© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007

#2 G-Man

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 08:57 AM

Two points:

First I have never ever in my life said " I have friend that lives in North Fairfield."

To this point, Dallas Road from Cook to Clover Point is remarkably intact and the form and character of that neighbourhood is synonymous with Fairfield. Yet we're seeing from Clover Point down to the Ross Bay Cemetery a lot of redevelopment that, personally, I wouldn't want to see at the west end of the neighbourhood.


Why is it that Coun. Madoff is always in love with areas that I find horrendous. Dallas road has only recently started to look good again because of some of the significant developments. For the most part the houses are run down and the condo buildings are the worst sort of 1960's crap. It is the stuff down in the last 10 years that actually seems to have some quality. Now I am not saying there are not houses to be saved here but I think an examination of the zonings in general all along the whole length of Dallas Road from Ross Bay Cemetary to Ogden Point should be done. There should be some identification of areas where some commercial residential mixed use can go in.

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#3 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 02:12 PM

I think that some of the buildings / properties newly developed along the Clover Pt. to Ross Bay stretch look pretty good. And I don't know why the journalist seems to leave out market considerations, and makes it sound like a community choice to keep little bitty bungalows (re. Clover Pt. to Cook St.). If I could afford to buy a property there, paying through the nose for the land / location, would I stop at that and be content to live in a wee "character" cottage? Or, if I'm an investor, would I leave it as a SFH, ...or try to develop it? There's an underlying economic change, it gets exploited. Funny, I don't see hand-wringing (on the councillor's side) over the very expensive THs in James Bay on Dallas Rd. (the old immigration / holding site). You really have to wonder why some projects get the seal of approval, and others get sniffed at.

Also, I don't recall any blasting on Moss Rock hill itself. There was blasting on Briar Place, and there are now 2 houses on what used to be a single lot. They're both very attractive houses, one is traditional, and the other is a really great looking modernist house. You can't see the trad one from Fairfield Rd., but you can see the modernist one. It looks great, IMO. But the blasting probably upset many people, and now, with the modernist house in full view, people who were upset by the blasting can obsess about it for generations to come 'cause the modern house will startle them every time they go past Briar on Fairfield...

At the same time, the two very modern houses on Terrace Ave. in Rockland were also built on what was a single lot, and it had to be blasted even more to create a building site. Those houses look great, too. It doesn't all have to be traditional. And maybe since you can't see them from a main street, everyone has already forgotten about them (and the blasting).
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#4 gumgum

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 02:36 PM

This is just a way to try and put the brakes on all of these old houses being converted to multi-condo complexes. There a lot of single family owners that are very nervous every time another house changes hands. I know when we bought our house, many of our neighbours voiced great relief when we told them that we just want to live there and not convert it in any way. I'm not defending them or condemning them, because I can see either side of the coin to be quite honest.

If someone is so inclined and has the expertise, I'd love to see a picture to go with the different classifications of types and era of homes listed in the article:

Victorian Gothic, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Colonial Bungalow, British Arts and Crafts, Edwardian Vernacular, Craftsman, California/Mission, Four-Square Italianate Vernacular, Tudor Revival, Georgian Revival, Edwardian Classical, Norman Village/Storybook, Old English Cotswold Cottage, English Rural Vernacular, Spanish Colonial Revival, Art Deco, Art Moderne and International Style.

Just out of interest.

Ms. B, I think the blasting going on on Moss Rocks was in relation to an old home that was recently torn down on Memorial Cres., just across the street from Ross Bay Cemetery, and close to Fairfield Rd. I think new foundations might be in the works for a new house there as we speak.

#5 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 04:11 PM

@ gumgum: you're right re. Memorial Crescent. I went down that way after I posted earlier, and jogged my memory that it is indeed presently a construction site. (But I know for a fact that the Briar Pl. blasting was a real sore point in Fairfield.)

I don't know, BTW, whether the registry would do anything to stop the conversion of SFH into multiplex condo buildings. For example, The Tacoma (I think that's the 700 block of Linden) is still a James house, even though it's lifted and converted.

Besides, if it's just a registry, it has no teeth anyway. (Which, at the expense of sounding like a vandal, is a good thing, IMO. The Freemasons refused to put their building (just behind Centennial Sq., what is that?, Herald?, west of Douglas & The Hudson) on the heritage list b/c they want to maintain control.) (edit: Fisgard, not Herald)

Design guidelines might be a good way to "start a conversation" around the conversion or new construction issue. I know some neighbourhoods have talked about that, particularly when "monster houses" or "McMansions" go up on the foundations of what used to be bungalows. For example, on the street just below Rockland between St.Charles & Gonzales -- Montgomery? -- a street full of little postwar bungalows. One owner got a "renovation" permit (which requires no variances, nothing) and took the existing bungalow down to maybe a couple of posts, replacing everything else with a very large house (which quite a few people think is really pretty ugly). It's also for all intents and purposes 3 storeys tall, even though houses are supposed to be 2 or 2 1/2 there. This owner is probably repeating the exercise with another house he owns on that street, and the neighbours, knowing that they can't stop something just because they think it's ugly, wonder whether they can't get design guidelines in place that would sort of tell builders what and what isn't acceptable for the neighbourhood. But can you imagine how tricky that is to determine & codify?

Meanwhile, neighbours figure that if it happens with two houses on the street, it'll happen with the next one that goes up for sale, and so on down the line. There're quite a few of these smaller houses in the neighbourhoods, and they're just not going to satisfy the "display & represent your status" expectations of some buyers.

Some of this happened already in Vancouver, back in the 80s, when people bought small houses, tore them down, and built really big homes right out to the lot-line. I think that was around the time that people were leaving Hong Kong and buying property in Vancouver.

I'm not sure Vancouver ever figured out what to do with that phenomenon -- require setbacks? It's kinda tricky to regulate "taste"...
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#6 obscurantist

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 04:36 PM

Some of this happened already in Vancouver, back in the 80s, when people bought small houses, tore them down, and built really big homes right out to the lot-line. I think that was around the time that people were leaving Hong Kong and buying property in Vancouver.

I'm not sure Vancouver ever figured out what to do with that phenomenon -- require setbacks? It's kinda tricky to regulate "taste"...

Surrey recently passed a bylaw dealing with "monster houses" in a particular neighbourhood. And from one of the articles about the bylaw (the last one I've excerpted), it sounds like Vancouver's response to the trend of large houses in the 1980s was to introduce design controls. This might be an option that's only available under the Vancouver Charter, but I'm not sure about that.

A decision by Surrey council to restrict house sizes in a neighbourhood of ranch-style homes has led to accusations of racism.[/url:061a4]

"I think it's racism," St. Helen's Park resident Kamaljit Thind said yesterday. "By this [decision], they are telling me I am not welcome here, that I am not allowed to build a home to fit my family."

Council on Monday night voted to limit the size of new homes in St. Helen's to 3,200 square feet, including the basement. The bylaw, the first of its kind in the city, was the result of two years of consultation with residents who wanted to preserve the North Surrey neighbourhood's character.

But other residents, mostly of South Asian background, opposed the bylaw, calling it discriminatory.

"We are not talking about monster houses -- only more square feet," said Thind. "I have three children and my father and mother live with me. We need more space."

Before the new bylaw, homes up to 3,550 sq. ft., not including the basement, were allowed. Though most of the homes in St. Helen's Park are ranchers built in the 1950s, some have been updated and expanded. Thind lives in a split-level home he had hoped to renovate some day. ...

Residents who supported the bylaw are upset the neighbourhood has become divided by race.

"It's not fair to say that it's about race," said Chris Parry. "We want to see this community maintained. It's a beautiful place." ...

Resident Sandra Benz agreed.

"House size affects the character of a community," she said. "If you allow people to build large houses with rental suites, it's not going to have the same feel."

Benz said she's confident the new zoning won't hurt property values. ...

But Sukheev Grewal, a realtor with property listed in the neighbourhood, said: "It's going to be harder to sell. I see families that need at least six or seven bedrooms, but they can't build that now. It's not fair." ...

Coun. Tom Gill said his vote against the change was influenced by his experience in construction.

"Today's architecture demands a little more space and higher roof lines," he said.

"The homes in question I would not call heritage. They are basically boxes with a roof up one end and down another. They are very simple ranchers.

No one wanted huge homes. It's just a matter of a couple hundred more square feet. I think this is setting a precedent, and I'm not sure if it's the right precedent to be setting."

[url=http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/westcoastnews/story.html?id=71823f7d-2754-4484-8b21-7a6f9645913e]A plan to limit house sizes in North Surrey's historic St. Helen's Park neighbourhood was proposed two years before the site of the new Khalsa School was chosen, Mayor Dianne Watts said Wednesday.

But since the new Khalsa School proposal was approved by council last May, for sale signs have popped up all over the Whalley neighbourhood surrounding the four-hectare school construction site between Old Yale Road and 104th Avenue.

Most of the property being sold in the historic area is to South Asians who want to live near the school, real estate agent Munish Bhatti said Wednesday.

Bhatti has four listings near the school site and says the move by council to restrict new houses to a maximum of 3,250 square feet will hurt sales since many Indo-Canadians want large houses so extended families can stay together.

"This will very much discourage people from buying property on that side," he said. "It is not fair. Whatever the zoning says, it should go by that rule. People very much want to put up new houses near the Khalsa School and move there." ...

But Watts said allegations of racism are misplaced. ...

"Within the St. Helen's community, there are Indo-Canadian folks, there are Japanese, there are Korean. It is quite ethnically diverse in that entire community as it stands right now," she said. "The community worked for about 21/2 years to go through the process." ...

And she said if someone builds a house under the new restrictions, they can always come back later.

"If someone wants to build an addition onto their house, they can still come forward to council and get a variance."

Coun. Bob Bose said the new limits simply reflect the wishes of a historic community and to preserve the rural nature of the neighbourhood of smaller homes that are decades old. ...

"But boy, we have far too few communities that have clear identity where people see themselves as part of a community and that is an important value for them," Bose said of the long-term St. Helen's Park residents.

"We have people there who have three generations there."

[url=http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=2caf4afd-2721-4856-a093-1e6f1fdb7381:061a4]Surrey's monster-home battle has been fought before -- in Vancouver.[/url:061a4]

Bob McGilvray, a retired Vancouver city planner, remembers "mostly white, old-guard" families on the west side getting upset when pastel-coloured faux mansions began appearing in the 1980s and early '90s.

"They were built to the maximum allowable size on the lot and there was not much design sophistication," McGilvray said. "They were big boxes with windows and no trees in the yard."

The monster homes of the time were built largely on spec by developers wanting to cash in on the exodus of large, wealthy Chinese families arriving from Hong Kong.

"The spec builders built for multi-generational families as big as they could, as quick as they could, and charged as much as they could get," McGilvray said.

"Council decided they couldn't take away development rights, so they introduced design controls.

"It was a carrot-and-stick approach."

The carrot was that a developer who built a home in the character of the neighbourhood, including things like a pitched roof, could build a larger home than would otherwise be allowed.

The stick was applied to developers wanting to build monster homes without the character, because the amount of floor space above the basement was reduced.

McGilvray said the demise of the monster home was also helped by improved buyer taste.

Vancouver is the only municipality in the Lower Mainland with discretionary residential zoning -- the carrot-and-stick approach.



#7 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 06:45 PM

[url=http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=2caf4afd-2721-4856-a093-1e6f1fdb7381:8d20b]Surrey's monster-home battle has been fought before -- in Vancouver.[/url:8d20b]

Bob McGilvray, a retired Vancouver city planner, remembers "mostly white, old-guard" families on the west side getting upset when pastel-coloured faux mansions began appearing in the 1980s and early '90s.

"They were built to the maximum allowable size on the lot and there was not much design sophistication," McGilvray said. "They were big boxes with windows and no trees in the yard."

The monster homes of the time were built largely on spec by developers wanting to cash in on the exodus of large, wealthy Chinese families arriving from Hong Kong.

"The spec builders built for multi-generational families as big as they could, as quick as they could, and charged as much as they could get," McGilvray said.

"Council decided they couldn't take away development rights, so they introduced design controls.

"It was a carrot-and-stick approach."

The carrot was that a developer who built a home in the character of the neighbourhood, including things like a pitched roof, could build a larger home than would otherwise be allowed.

The stick was applied to developers wanting to build monster homes without the character, because the amount of floor space above the basement was reduced.

McGilvray said the demise of the monster home was also helped by improved buyer taste.

Vancouver is the only municipality in the Lower Mainland with discretionary residential zoning -- the carrot-and-stick approach.


Interesting update, obscurantist -- I had no idea this issue was coming up in Surrey now. Might be better if Surrey could take the Vancouver "carrot-and-stick-approach," outlined in that article you cite (above). I don't think it's right to tell people that they can't build multi-generational houses (which is what Surrey is effectively doing by telling folks that they have to stay below a certain size). (**)

What caught my eye in that article about Vancouver's approach is the suggestion that "improved buyer taste" helped smooth ruffled feathers. In other words, if people fit in class-wise, everyone sort of calms down...?

Also of interest, "Vancouver is the only municipality in the Lower Mainland with discretionary residential zoning": good god, zoning law makes patent law look like kindergarten stuff, doesn't it? I mean, how can citizens keep track of all this, with every fief having its own special niche zoning regulations? :?

Edit: what I mean by that is that I believe it essentially is an ethnic targeting (maybe not racism, but certainly a reaction to other ethnic mores) if a community says, "we have nuclear-family-only standards, and that's that." It's very white (northern European derived), that's for sure. This is why the "improved buyer taste" comment interests me, too, b/c it suggests that at some point people are "assimilated" (and accepted) b/c they can afford to fit in?
one last edit: that said, I don't think the issues around renovations, etc., in Fairfield & Rockland are related to different ethnic patterns; it seems more a question of market pressures, money, new folks with bigger money bags squeezing out people who thought they were comfortable standing still. There is no standing still right now, and so people get mad.
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#8 aastra

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 10:10 AM

First I have never ever in my life said " I have friend that lives in North Fairfield.


North Fairfield is as unique and distinct as East Jubilee or South Central Oaklands. Just be thankful they don't have their own mayors and councils.

#9 Mike

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Posted 23 March 2007 - 01:56 PM

North Fairfield is as unique and distinct as East Jubilee or South Central Oaklands. Just be thankful they don't have their own mayors and councils.


Haahaha. So true.

#10 gumgum

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 11:01 AM

I'm wondering why this thread was moved from the core? I was thinking that this thread could be used for all Fairfield related news and issues, not just about the article I posted at the beginning of this thread.

#11 Galvanized

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 11:03 AM

The core section is generally for specific building projects such as Castana.
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#12 G-Man

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 11:04 AM

Fair point though as there is an Oak Bay thread...

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#13 Mike K.

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 11:06 AM

Oops, OB slipped past. I'll move it here.

Any threads not specifically about a project should be in UI.

Perhaps its time for a new section?

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#14 Galvanized

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 11:10 AM

I moved Quadra Village as well, I believe these two threads were created before we had the Urban Issues forum.
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#15 gumgum

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 02:27 PM

The FCA is behind a drive to beautify and to redefine the corner of Moss, Fairfield and Oscar as a destination, being that it's been touted as by FCA as the "heart" of Fairfield. It's to be called "5 Points Corner". A successful application to the City of Victoria's Greenway Program has given this plan the go-ahead.
Here's the plan. That dead-end street with the cars parked is Oscar. and Fairfield at the top.

Work is underway.
Nothing too exciting, but the devil's in the details when it comes to beautification and regeneration I suppose.

#16 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 09:03 PM

^ Looks cute. With the school across the way, the video store on Fairfield, the church, the community centre, various businesses, plus the Fairfield Bicycle Shop, the fish & chips place, and the convenience store, it is a busy crossing / corner area.

Did y'all see Fairfield sufferes a rash of break-ins, too?
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#17 gumgum

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 09:12 PM

^That makes me a bit nervous.
A cop car wizzed by my house last night at around 8 - something you don't see often around here. I'm on Linden. He most definitely was the cop headed to arrest that robber described in the last part of the article, on Faithful.

#18 zoomer

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 10:04 PM

speaking of Faithful St, every time I see the street sign I wonder how many people living on Faithful are being unfaithful and if the irony torments them..

tell me that's not a weird thought... :confused:

#19 Holden West

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 10:18 PM

When I'm in Fairfield, I wonder how many people on Oscar St. are grouchy. And I wonder if Harbinger Ave. is a sign of things to come.
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#20 zoomer

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Posted 19 November 2007 - 10:35 PM

:D that last one's Gold Jerry Gold!

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