Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/8/2018 (1378 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
One of the most historically affluent neighbourhoods in Winnipeg is on deck to be protected by the City.
Over the next few months, the City of Winnipeg’s public service will be taking stock of properties in Crescentwood to establish the case for a heritage conservation district in the area, said city councillor John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry).
In early July, a motion brought forward by Orlikow tasked the public service with investigating whether a heritage conservation district, similar to the one developed for Armstrong’s Point, would work in Crescentwood.
"People love the heritage nature of the neighbourhood, they love the feel of the neighbourhood and they want to protect that," Orlikow told The Sou’wester.
"The first step is the City will do an inventory — there are lots of houses from the 1900s around but there are also different styles: farmhouses, Texas ranch-style houses, some postmodern homes, so there’s quite a variety. They will analyze the neighbourhood to see if the criteria warrants it, but they already told me it does."
Orlikow would like to see the area traditionally defined as Crescentwood (bounded on the east by the Assiniboine River, on the north by Academy Road, on the west by Cambridge Street, and the south by Corydon Avenue, north along Stafford Street, and then Grosvenor Avenue back to Wellington Crescent) included in the conservation district.
Such a designation would protect certain homes from demolition and set the design standards, setbacks, and building materials for new builds, in consultation with the community.
The primary motivation for bringing Crescentwood under a heritage conservation district is to protect the current housing stock, particularly homes with heritage value, Orlikow said.
"The development that’s happening in the neighbourhood is quite astounding," he said. "There’s a lot of new development pressure. Before the value of the land and houses made it economically not very feasible to rip down an old house, but now with the land values and the house values going up, it’s actually economically viable to rip down an old house and put up a new thing."
In the fall of 2016, the community rallied to protect 514 Wellington Cresc., also known as the Everett House, with a petition after learning a developer had purchased the property with the intention of turning it into condos. The developer later withdrew the application.
Other controversial projects in the neighbourhood include: 17 Harvard Ave. where a century-old home was demolished; the construction of a condominium complex at Harrow Street and and McMillan Avenue; and the demolition of 108 Yale Ave. for a mixed-use building with commercial and residential units.
Cindy Tugwell, the executive director of Heritage Winnipeg, said it makes sense Crescentwood would be next up for a heritage conservation district.
"An area is historic because of its architectural significance, its cultural significance, who the architects were that built it, and the social history of the people who lived there," she said. "I think in Crescentwood it is a no-brainer... that if these homes, if not maintained, will see the same fate as other large single-family homes demolished for lucrative condos."
The neighbourhood was established at the turn of the 20th century and over the years has been home to many of the city’s most high profile residents. According to Tugwell, Crescentwood includes some of the highest caliber heritage homes outside of Armstrong’s Point and was one of the city’s first bonafide suburbs.
"Basically it was an elite area where there was a specific caveat that ensured large homes were built, they were set back on the property, and (the builder) spent a certain amount of money," Tugwell said. "The collection of the homes itself is probably what would make a heritage district."
Orlikow said a heritage conservation district wouldn’t put a halt on development in the area. Rather, properties in the neighbourhood would be evaluated to determine heritage value and the viability of preserving the home. If a property is deemed to be significant to Crescentwood’s heritage, that would be communicated to owners and any potential buyers, Orlikow said.
"That would allow the industry, realtors and people who are buying houses, to know that," he said. "We’ve had some horrible interactions when people come into the neighbourhood unaware of the hopes and dreams of the neighbourhood not to demolish homes.
"We’re trying to find a way to maintain what makes this neighbourhood so valuable, while also allowing it to grow."
Orlikow said the earliest he expects to hear from the public service on the merits of a Crescentwood Heritage Conservation District is September, and work would only begin in earnest after the Armstrong’s Point Heritage Conservation District clears the City’s legal department and is passed by city council.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.