Author and heritage activist Caroline Adderson, who launched the Vancouver Vanishes Facebook page years ago, was among people and projects celebrated at the Vancouver Heritage Awards ceremony May 6.
Adderson was acknowledged with an award of honour “for her leadership and advocacy on issues around the loss of neighbourhood heritage, character and community cohesiveness.”
Presented every other year, the awards, which come in three categories — honour, merit and recognition — acknowledge projects and special accomplishments, including the restoration and rehabilitation of buildings, features and sites. They also recognize work that promotes heritage conservation, public education, advocacy and awareness.
The jury features three members of the Vancouver Heritage Commission and two members of the public. Projects must have been completed within the last six years.
For her part, Adderson has spent years lamenting the loss of character homes in Vancouver and advocating for their preservation by lobbying the city and through efforts such as the Vancouver Vanishes Facebook page, which features posts about heritage homes in her West Side neighbourhood that have been or will be knocked down, and a 2015 book of essays entitled Vancouver Vanishes: Narratives of Demolition and Removal.
We asked Adderson, who was out of town, via email what the award means to her and what conservation measures she’d like to see in Vancouver.
Were you surprised to be nominated for and win the award, and what does it mean to you?
I knew I’d been nominated, but didn’t actually expect the award since my concerns go beyond heritage preservation and, as your next question suggests, I’ve been a vocal critic of the city’s inaction on demolition. While I appreciate being recognized for years of volunteer work, I mainly hope that this award will bring some attention back to this ongoing issue.
You have been, at times, quite critical of the City of Vancouver’s efforts to preserve heritage homes. Do you still think the city could do more to encourage their preservation?
Absolutely! In 2018, Vancouver issued 832 demolition permits, more than 80 per cent to replace a livable home for a much larger and more expensive one. We now know the full environmental cost of this trend thanks to a UBC report issued last year. The new house would have to stand for 168 years to recover construction impacts, three times as long as it’s built to last. If we want an affordable and sustainable city, then council should revisit the 2017 Character Home Zoning Review. Widely supported by the public, it proposed reducing the allowable floor area of new construction such as in our vibrant RT-zones, thereby eliminating the primary cause of demolition: luxury redevelopment.
Are you more optimistic or more pessimistic since you started working on the issue?
Pessimistic, I’m sorry to say. I saw how close council came in 2017 to passing effective policy. Then they shelved it. There are many competing interests in this issue and, sadly, the profit motive usually wins.
Are you still chronicling heritage homes that have been knocked down? If so, how many have you recorded?
I’m still posting demolitions on the Facebook page, though irregularly now. The demolition rate hasn’t declined, but my energy level has!
What do you think the members of the public who are interested in preserving the city’s heritage homes can or should do?
They can join neighbourhood and heritage organizations. They should also let their elected representatives at all levels of government know how they feel. Call 3-1-1. Send an email. They count every complaint even if they don’t respond.
Other Vancouver Heritage Awards recipients include:
AWARDS OF HONOUR
Burrard Street Bridge
“For restoring structural and design elements, while introducing new elements in a respectful manner to allow for continued and improved public use of the bridge.”
Recipients: Iredale Architecture, Donald Luxton and Associates, Associated Engineering, and the City of Vancouver
Chinatown BBQ, 130 East Pender
“For the initiative put toward opening this restaurant, a business which translates intangible cultural values into a physical setting, contributing to community revitalization and local economic benefits.”
Recipient: Carol Lee
Exchange Building, 475 Howe St.
“For the sensitive restoration work on both the exterior facades and interior elements including the elevator lobby of the building.”
Recipients: Iredale Architecture, SwissReal Investments, Donald Luxton and Associates
Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours
“For organizing public tours and events which contribute to education and awareness of a time when Vancouver was a smaller city, and the culture and experiences of the past.”
Recipients: Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours, Danny Filippone, Aaron Chapman and Grant MacDonald.
Lim Sai Hor Kow Mock Benevolent Association Building, 525-531 Carrall St.
“For the sensitive rehabilitation of character-defining elements in keeping with the original 1903 building, and acknowledging the important role of this building in the community.”
Recipients: Lim Sai Hor Kow Mock Benevolent Association, McGinn Engineering and Preservation Ltd., and Extraordinary League Contracting Ltd.
Ludgate Residence, 2024 West 15th Ave.
“For the rehabilitation of the exterior and important interior elements of this 1912 Craftsman home.”
Recipients: Ronse Massey Developments, Alexandre Ravkov, John Atkin Heritage and Research, and John Ludgate
Places That Matter Plaque Project and Community History Resource Website
“For a project that gathers public input on the people, places and events of Vancouver’s history to honour and recognize them through a plaque program and resource website.”
Recipient: Vancouver Heritage Foundation
Strathcona elementary school, 500-594 East Pender St.
“For the innovative engineering work and respectful approach to seismic upgrading and exterior rehabilitation of this historic school which opened in 1891.”
Recipients: Ausenco, and Colborne Architectural Group Pacific Inc.
AWARDS OF MERIT
Brookhouse Residence, 1872 Parker St.
“For rehabilitating the exterior of this 1908 neighbourhood landmark residence, as part of a restoration that created 10 new homes.”
Recipients: Ankenman Marchand Architects, Transolini Chetner Construction Development, and Don Luxton and Associates
Cambie Street Apartments, 2930 Cambie St.
“For the rehabilitation of the exterior of this apartment building which was originally built in the 1920s.”
Recipients: Haeccity Studio Architecture, Strathmore Lodge Projects, Vanterre Projects, and Basic Design
The Dorothies, 2814 West 41st Ave.
“For the retention, relocation and rehabilitation of select exterior elements of these twin 1931 Tudor homes, nicknamed for two former residents and neighbours both named Dorothy.”
Recipients:Ankenman Marchand Architects, Transolini Chetner Construction Development, and Donald Luxton and Associates
Gables Estate, 2106 Southwest Marine Dr.
“For the rehabilitation of select exterior and interior elements, and the integration of new landscaping while respecting the historical components of this 1929 Tudor mansion.”
Recipients: Paul Sangha Landscape Architecture, Bluefish Design Studio, Marino General Contracting
Journeys of Hope — Challenging Discrimination and Building on Vancouver Chinatown’s Legacies
“For producing a publication that contributes to education, awareness and a deeper understanding of the struggle, resilience and hope in the Chinese community.”
Recipients: Henry Yu, Sarah Ling, Szu Shen and Baldwin Wong
Mount Pleasant Heritage Group
“For efforts in raising awareness and promoting public appreciation of both the neighbourhood’s history and the resources within the community.”
Recipients: Danielle Peacock, Alyssa Myshok, Jennifer Chernecki, and Christine Hagemoen
Vancouver Chinatown Food Security Report
“For the publication of this report that strongly and clearly illustrates the importance of food as a cultural asset and a contributor to community cohesiveness.”
Recipient: Hua Foundation
AWARDS OF RECOGNITION
The Acadia, 609 Heatley Ave.
“For the exterior rehabilitation of this Strathcona building that was originally constructed in 1910 and continues to serve as rental housing.”
Recipients: The M1 Group, JTA Development Consultants, Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects
Heather Heritage Society
“For sustained efforts in promoting and publicizing the work necessary for the preservation of the Heather Pavilion at Vancouver General Hospital.”
Recipient: Heather Heritage Society
Macken Residence, 1975 West 15th Ave.
“For the rehabilitation of the exterior of this home, which was built in 1911 in the Arts and Craft style of architecture.”
Recipients: Formwerks Architectural and Formwerks Boutique Properties
2018 Orpheum Theatre Tours
“For contributing to civic education and awareness by showcasing the historical and cultural importance of this civic heritage building.”
Recipient: Vancouver Civic Theatres
Spencer Building, 515 West Hastings St.
“For the detailed rehabilitation work on the upper floors of this 1925 building that is currently home to Simon Fraser University’s Harbour Centre downtown campus.”
Recipients: Polaris Realty Limited, RDH Building Science Inc., and Van den Kerkhof and Son Masonry.