The Brown house: ‘The last bastion of heritage homes in the core of Cloverdale’ was torn down in January despite heritage protection.

‘Glitch’ blamed for heritage home demolition

The Brown house, listed on the city's heritage inventory, was torn down in January. It's not the only recent heritage loss in Cloverdale.

A glitch in the system is being blamed for allowing demolition to proceed on a heritage site in Cloverdale.

The Brown house at 17555 56 Ave., listed on the city’s heritage inventory, was torn down in January, according to minutes from a recent Surrey Heritage Advisory Commission meeting.

“Due to a glitch in the system, the heritage status of the Brown House was not noted by staff and thus not referred to the commission for comment,” it says. “Staff noted they are investigating the cause of the glitch and will work to rectify the issue.”

The Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce had hoped the house would be saved. The late Bill Reid, past executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said in 2013 he hoped the Brown house would be moved, and possibly used as heritage office space.

“This is the last bastion of heritage homes in the core of Cloverdale at the moment,” he said, referring to other recent losses in the historic town centre.

According to the City of Surrey, a listing on the city’s heritage register isn’t the same as heritage protection or designation – a building can only be protected through a bylaw, heritage revitalization agreement or restrictive covenant.

The owner may redevelop the site or make alterations; however, if a demolition or alteration is proposed, the City of Surrey can place an order for temporary protection up to 60 days, initiating a process where the site can be looked at in more detail, and discussions with the owner can take place.

There are around 200 places listed on the Surrey Heritage Register and just over 60 protected heritage sites, including a number in Cloverdale and area: the 1881 town hall at 17635 60 Avenue on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds (home to the B.C. Vintage Truck Museum); the 1912 municipal hall at 17671 56 Ave., which houses the Surrey Archives; and both Christ Church and Christ Church Cemetery on Old McClellan Road (next to the Surrey Centre Cemetery).http://webpapersadmin.bcnewsgroup.com/portals/uploads/cloverdale/.DIR288/AlexanderEtsellConnollyHouse.jpg

Although it had been listed on the Community Heritage Registry in 1998, heritage status also didn’t save the Cloverdale United Church manse at 6533 168 Street (pictured: City of Surrey photo). Demolition permits for three structures on the property, including the manse, built in 1905, were issued, according to heritage advisory commission minutes.

In this case, the heritage flag wasn’t noted by staff because there were different addresses for each of the structures, and a demolition permit was issued without the commission’s knowledge.

The George E. Lawrence House at 18431 Fraser Highway was protected by a heritage revitalization agreement requiring the developer of a townhouse complex to restore the 1908 home as a condition of development. It originally belonged to a city councillor who served in 1905 and 1906, and was part of a property that has been turned into a townhome development called Mackenzie Estates.

Developers the Mann Group were planning to relocate the building to another part of the property for use as an amenity building and completely restore the home. However, engineers hired by the developer wouldn’t sign off on moving the building, which was declared unsafe by WorkSafe BC. The city subsequently agreed to allow the developer to demolish the home and build an exact replica – along with an added incentive.

The developer has put up $100,000 in securities and bonding, reflecting the loss of heritage.

“They’ve put up security equal to the cost of the building,” said Don Luymes, manager of community planning with the City of Surrey. “They’ve built the foundation, they just haven’t built the replica yet.”

Luymes noted building permits phase two of the development are dependent on the replica George E. Lawrence home being built.

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