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The MLS neighbourhood of Arbutus is known as Vancouver's Arbutus Ridge.
History & Heritage
The history of Arbutus Ridge is short, even by Vancouver standards. While its development was connected to that of the adjacent areas of Shaughnessy, Dunbar and Kerrisdale, the community was to develop differently as a result of the CPR and due to the swampy nature of the area.
In its natural state, Arbutus Ridge consisted of uplands surrounding a low-lying marsh known as Asthma Flats. The original inhabitants fished the local streams, although there is no record of settlement. In 1888, the Province turned over 2,100 hectares (5,189 acres) of land in the area to the CPR. Included in this holding was a large portion of what is now the Arbutus Ridge community. Over the years Arbutus Ridge has been part of three municipalities: South Vancouver until 1908; then Point Grey and finally Vancouver in 1929. The crossroads of East/West Boulevard and Wilson Avenue (now 4 1 st Avenue) were the hub of local political activity in those early years.
The community's uplands area (known to residents as Mackenzie Heights) was first to see residential settlement. These uplands, which filled with gracious middle-class homes between 1912 and the 1930s, became identified with the adjacent communities of Dunbar and Kerrisdale. The B.C. Electric's interurban railway line, which connected Steveston with Vancouver in 1905, passed through the Kerrisdale area (with stops at 37th/ East Boulevard and 41st/East Boulevard) acted as a trigger for early development. The railway was replaced with trolley buses in July 1952. During the 1940s and 1950s sand was brought in from False Creek and the low areas filled in with houses, schools and shops. in the late 1960s a major development occurred within the community when Arbutus Village, a housing and shopping complex was constructed.
Detailed information on the city's heritage and a complete list of heritage buildings is available at City of Vancouver Heritage.
Additional information is available through the City of Vancouver Archives.
A number of homes remain in Arbutus Ridge from Vancouver's early settlement years. Of particular heritage significance are several period homes on 37th Avenue built in 1912, in the English Arts and Crafts Style, by prominent architect G.L. Thornton Sharp. Sharp is credited with helping to define Vancouver's identity in the first half of this century.
St. Mary's Kerrisdale Anglican Church, also built in the English Arts and Crafts style, is an important heritage structure and neighbourhood landmark. The original church building was constructed in 1913, but has been expanded many times since. Thornton & Sharp were the original designers. The church hall and Sunday School (designed by Sharp and Thompson) were added in 1923. Well known Vancouver architects, Twizell and Twizell, extended the east and west portions in 1947. As of June 1992, there were 18 structures in Arbutus Ridge listed on the Vancouver Heritage Inventory.
In the early 1990s, the Secondary Suites Program resulted in no zoning for rental suites in Arbutus-Ridge. In the late 1990s, as a result of the RS Zoning Program, RS-5 zoning, which includes design review, was adopted in part of the area. Otherwise, there has been no community planning in Arbutus-Ridge.
In 1995, Vancouver City Council approved CityPlan: Directions for Vancouver. CityPlan is a citywide plan that will guide City decisions on programs, priorities and actions through 2021. CityPlan provides general directions for a range of topics and issues in which the City is involved including neighbourhood centres, housing variety and affordability, neighbourhood character, services, safety, arts and culture, public places, economy and jobs, transportation, environment, downtown development, financial accountability, and decision making.
The Community Visions Program is a component of CityPlan that provides each community with an opportunity to look into its future, determine its needs and aspirations, and set a course that is consistent with CityPlan. Community visioning is being implemented in areas where there has been little or no previous community planning.
Arbutus Ridge, together with two adjacent areas, is slated to have a Community Vision Program starting in 2003.
The zoning types found in Arbutus-Ridge are listed below.
- RS-1: single-family houses, with family suite but no rental suite. No design review.
- RS-5: single-family houses, with family suite but no rental suite. Optional design review.
- RM-3: either three- to four-storey or 12-storey apartment buildings, with no design review.
- C-2: either four-storey commercial/residential mixed use, with design review; or three- to four-storey all commercial, without design review.
- CD-1s: different forms of development under customized, site-specific regulations, with design review. Arbutus Village and Arbutus Gardens are among the CD-1 zoned sites in the area.