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Archaeological evidence indicates that native Indians inhabited the Southlands area as early as 400 B.C. The mouth of the Fraser provided abundant hunting and fishing grounds for coastal Salish Indians who settled in at least three locations: the Angus Lands, Celtic Island and the Musqueam Reserve area. In 1879, the Musqueam Reserve was formally dedicated and in 1892, Southlands became part of the newly incorporated District of South Vancouver.
In 1908, while land was available in Marpole for development, land in the Dunbar area (then owned by the CPR and the province and part of the old Municipality of Point Grey) was unsuitable for development having been logged off and left a mass of fallen, burnt timbers. The first non-native settlers in the area were the Mounts who purchased a lot on 22nd Avenue in 1912 and built a shack; the lot became 3379 West 22nd Avenue.
In 1912, a section of the University of British Columbia lands was subdivided and lots were laid out based on town planning principles of the day. The streetcar reached Clare Road (now Dunbar Street) in 1913 and went as far as 41st Avenue by 1925. By 1927,the area was served by three streetcar routes. Dunbar-Southlands became part of Vancouver in 1929 when the Municipality of Point Grey amalgamated with the City of Vancouver.
The first significant land development in Dunbar-Southlands occurred in the mid-1920s and some of the homes built during this period still stand today. Because West Point Grey's 1922 zoning by-laws dictated that these early homes be situated well back on their lots, those that remain standout as neighbourhood landmarks. Subsequent development took place in the years following World War II and then again in the early 1970s when King Edward Place and Salish Park were developed.
The former Convent of the Sacred Heart, now St George's School,
West 29th Ave is a significant heritage building in the area.
Dunbar-Southlands has a rich architectural heritage and, fortunately, a number of significant homes and buildings still remain from the area's early settlement days. As of June 1992, there were 21 structures listed on the Vancouver Heritage Register.
Lord Kitchener School located on Blenheim at King Edward was built in 1914. This building features a refined combination of wood surfaces and textures, and is a very good example of the sophisticated use of wood that could be seen in Vancouver prior to the First World War.
Some of the earliest homes in this area are designed in the English Arts and Crafts and the Edwardian Building styles. Many of the homes were built before 1920 and remain as single family homes to this day. The Haigler House at 3537 W. 30th Avenue is a good example of such a building. Community support prompted its preservation.
For detailed information on heritage buildings in this area, and in Vancouver generally, visit City of Vancouver Heritage.
Additional information is available through the City of Vancouver Archives.
The Southlands Plan (1988) covered the area south of S.W. Marine Drive to the River. It resulted in revised RA-1 zoning and guidelines, a decision on zoning for the Angus Lands area, and policies related to floodproofing and dyking.
In the early 1990s, the Secondary Suites Program resulted in some zoning for rental suites in Dunbar. In the late 1990s, as a result of the RS Zoning Program, RS-5 and RS-6 zonings, which include design review were adopted, covering most of the area.
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. [CityPlan]
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.
The Dunbar Community Vision (1998) provides a long-term plan for the whole area.
Implementation initiatives are now occurring, or will be scheduled in future as resources permit. These include:
The zoning types found in Dunbar-Southlands are listed below.