20 November 2017 0 Comments Posted By : Bethany Lindsay

Vancouver stalled on demolition permit for historic home to avoid paying owners, judge says

Vancouver city staff intentionally dragged their feet for years on an application to demolish a century-old Shaughnessy mansion, waiting for council to approve a heritage protection bylaw, a B.C. Supreme Court judge has found.

The city acted in bad faith when it put off rejecting Zheqiang Wu and Binxia Cao's application to develop the property at 3990 Marguerite Street, Justice Catherine Murray wrote in a judgment Tuesday.

"Given the clear evidence indicating the City never intended to grant the plaintiffs a development permit due to the heritage merit of the property … the only action open to the City at the time was to designate the property as heritage and provide compensation," Murray wrote.

"Their failure to do so within a reasonable time deprived the plaintiffs of the compensation they were owed, according to the legislative framework, for the decreased market value of the property."

The home is known as the Walkem House, built in the Arts and Crafts style in 1913 for the shipbuilding magnate George Walkem.

Since September 2015, the house has been protected by the First Shaughnessy District Heritage Bylaw, which designated the neighbourhood as a heritage conservation area and prevented demolition of any home built before 1940.

But when Wu and Cao bought the property for $4.65 million in 2011, there was no such protection in place. Even before they signed on the dotted line, they asked their realtor to make sure the home wasn't protected by a heritage designation, according to court documents.

The old home was in rough shape and had been converted into five apartments years before, and from the very beginning, the couple planned to tear it down to build a new one where they could live with their three children.

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