This Sunday, New Westminster’s 38th annual Heritage Homes Tour is set to take place amid the controversial run-up to the proposed Queen’s Park Heritage Conservation Area (HCA). If City Council adopts the by-law amendment in mid-June, this one square kilometre neighbourhood containing 702 homes of every size and era over the past 150-plus years will become the largest HCA in Western Canada.
Established in 1858, New Westminster was the first capital city of BC.
In addition to hosting the annual Homes Tour, the New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society is part of the City-appointed stakeholder working group that recommended the Queen’s Park HCA, which, if approved, will protect existing heritage residences built before 1941 in Queen’s Park and provide design controls for all new construction in the neighbourhood.
The Heritage Homes Tour was established in direct response to the demolition of many beautiful heritage homes throughout the city of 66,000. The driving force behind the tour is simple: open several beautiful heritage homes to public viewing to inspire and educate residents and visitors alike.
Over the years, the event has become an economic driver, selling 30,000 tickets over its 38-year history. Catherine Hutson, this year’s tour organizer, says she and her husband moved to New Westminster after ‘discovering’ the city’s charming neighbourhoods when they attended the 1988 Tour. The Hutson’s 1912 Arts and Craft home (which is a formally protected designated heritage home) is on the tour this year. Like all homes in the neighbourhood, it continues to see substantial property assessment increases – allaying a concern of some residents who are worried the HCA will affect property values.
“In addition to pleasing our tour goers who love seeing the original character, we also attract people who’ve just discovered the Royal City and want to buy in what’s becoming an extremely popular Lower Mainland neighbourhood. On the tour, they can imagine how they could live in an older home, incorporating updates, additions or renovations, while keeping the look of the house that attracted them in the first place,” says Hutson.
This year’s Homes Tour features 11 homes spanning seven decades of heritage character blended with modern day living. Featured homes include a mid-century modern stunner, an Edwardian tour favourite, a Georgian Revival beauty and a handsome house with English Arts and Crafts influences. Six of the homes on the tour are in the proposed Queen’s Park Conservation Area.
The annual New Westminster Heritage Homes Tour takes place Sunday, May 28, 10 AM – 5 PM. Tickets are $35 each and can be purchased online at newwestheritage.org, right up to the day of the Tour.