So Blue

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Killing the Remnants of Character in Norquay

Norquay is blue, literally, in a Vancouver Building Age Map recently put together by Ekaterina Aristova.
Eye on Norquay has tweaked her mapping with an outline that circumscribes the blueness of Norquay.
(Follow the link to Aristova’s source map to see how color scale matches to decade.)


The blueness shows how much of the character and heritage that Norquay once had was destroyed in the decades of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. This history is what led planners to get so glib in the Norquay Plan:

There are only about 300 houses remaining in the area that were built prior to the 1940’s, many of which have lost much of their original character over time. There are only two houses in the area that are listed on the Vancouver Heritage Register.  (p. 6)

Translation: The City of Vancouver has treated this local community as a tear-it-down area deserving of a cheapo clear-cutting type monoculture, and will continue to do so. The cynicism comes home to roost in a functional sneer at the little character Norquay still left in the area.

This Plan provides incentives for character house retention, most notably by enabling development of rear-yard infill housing and additional FSR allowances to offset incentives of additional FSR through tear-down and redevelopment. Character home retention is not required, however.  (p. 21)

One year ago a spiffy and mostly vacuous document accreted to Norquay:

        Norquay Village character house and retention guidelines  (15 May 2013)

Here’s the key to the vacuity:

        With the exception of Small House/Duplex development sites,
        the retention of a character house is at the owner’s discretion.

Next, go to Page 1 of

        RT-11 and 11N guidelines

to discover that Small House/Duplex means a site of at least 5,500 sq ft. When you calculate the square footage of a “regular” Norquay parcel of 33 x 120, you get 3,960 sq ft. Of course, there are a lot of Norquay parcels on the downside of “regular.” But on the upside, you may as well go looking for hen’s teeth.

Bottom line: Despite the turgid prose and the fancy pictures and the veneer of concern, the City of Vancouver has declared Norquay a zone for clear-cutter makeover.


Norquay has no illusions that developers and politicians care much about any of Vancouver’s heritage.
Still, contrast the treatment of Norquay with the recent handwringing over those fine old houses in …
you guessed it! — Shaughnessy.

Kevin Griffin. “City approves plan to protect First Shaughnessy homes.” Vancouver Sun (12 June 2014)

Heritage action plan: steps to enhance protection of First Shaughnessy and pre-1940s character houses
(10 June 2014)

The City of Vancouver report cited above does look beyond Shaughnessy. But page 6 makes it crystal clear that it is the west side of Vancouver that matters, not the east side. “Arbutus, Dunbar, and Kerrisdale” get singled out for concern.

Meanwhile, the pale ghost of recently mass-rezoned Norquay hovers over the heart of East Vancouver.


Shaughnessy experiences a 15% population decline over the past forty years, yet continues to be stroked with kid gloves by the same politicians who yammer about the desperate need for Vancouver to accommodate countless incoming hordes of people.


Written by eyeonnorquay

3 July 2014 at 9:12 am

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