Ted Wiltshire stands in front of his home at 1979 Abbott St. on Wednesday. Wiltshire wants to raise the house, but the city won't give him the necessary permit.
Ted Wiltshire wants to make changes to a property he owns at 1979 Abbott St., but he says city representatives are thwarting his renovation plans by withholding the necessary permit.
He says he doesn't understand why IH can be permitted to move or even demolish homes it owns across from Kelowna General Hospital, while he is encountering problems when all he wants to do is renovate his property.
"So moving a heritage house to make way for a parking lot is OK by the city, but doing something to make a house more habitable is not OK? It doesn't make any sense to me," Wiltshire said Wednesday. "It seems like a real double standard.
"I'm not trying to wreck my house or do something funky and weird to it that would make it stick out like a sore thumb," he said. "We've already improved the look of it, and now we just want to lift it up a few feet so we can have more room for storage, the washer and dryer, the deep freeze, and access to utilities."
However, city officials say they are simply adhering to long-established policies that seek to preserve the overall look and feel of homes within the Abbott Street Heritage Conservation District, within which Wiltshire's home is located.
"The extent to which the building is being lifted greatly impacts the proportions and massing of the dwelling," reads part of a city staff report that recommended the heritage committee not endorse the alteration permit.
"The proposal compromises some of the characteristics noteworthy of the late vernacular cottage guidelines, and no redeeming qualities are introduced to the house," the report states.
People who own properties within the heritage conservation area must apply for and receive a heritage alteration permit before they can renovate, subdivide, alter or demolish the property.
Acquisition of the permit is usually a matter of negotiation between the applicant and city staff.
Generally, the city's interest is ensuring proposed changes to a structure "complement the established streetscape and maintains the integrity of architectural forms," according to an information bulletin on the heritage conservation area, which was established in 1998.
The community heritage committee, made up of volunteers, is only an advisory body. If Wiltshire can't reach an agreement with the group regarding modifications to his renovation plan, he can take his proposal directly to city council.
Last month, council supported IH's plan to convert three properties it recently bought on Royal Avenue to parking lots. Two of the homes have already been demolished, and the remaining one will be moved or knocked down.
Council agreed the parking is necessary. If Wiltshire takes his issue to council, he may argue the modest size and appearance of his 800-square-foot home on Abbott Street doesn't really warrant a heritage designation.
"It doesn't even have a foundation; it was just sitting on the dirt. It was built as a simple beach house back in the day," he said. "To call it an example of a 'late vernacular cottage,' as the heritage committee is doing, I mean, really, c'mon."