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BC Ombudsperson Cities Lack of Fairness from Hope District and Concern About Heritage Status Omission re: Train Station

Hope – The BC Ombudsperson released their finding over the Hope Train Station. This report was expected loast week. In the meantime, the Heritage arm of the Provincial Government put a stop work order on any potential demolition by the District of Hope on the station.

On Monday, Hope Council passed first and second reading on removing the heritage status and send the process to third reading AFTER a public hearing. That is due in May.

NOW, the Ombudsperson ruled that their investigation is now complete and there is a lot of information to distill from the 10 page report, but the 2 key findings are as follows:

– There was a lack of fairness of the procedure that the District used to make their decision [to demolish the building], and the District did not consider all options available to them.

– The BC Ombudsperson has concerns about the Council’s omission of any consideration of the impact of the Station House’s potential heritage status, [despite there being a heritage bylaw in place for the building].

Chirstian Ward with Hope for the Station House – Public Information Page said in a Facebook statement:

**BC Ombudsperson Report** SUCCESS for Hope Station HouseNews has been coming in thick and fast this week, and so far it’s been all good!On February 28th 2021, we submitted a complaint against the District of Hope, to the BC Ombudsperson. Over the following weeks following review of our evidence, the BC Ombudsperson launched an investigation into the District of Hope, reviewing the information we supplied, and requesting a great deal of further information from us as well as the District as the investigation progressed.For clarity, the BC Ombudsperson undertakes reviews of procedural fairness. This means that the Ombudsperson cannot necessarily preside over whether the ‘correct’ decision was made by an organisation, but rather, whether that decision was made in the correct way.The investigation is now complete and there is a lot of information to distill from the 10 page report, but the 2 key findings, for us, from the BC Ombudsperson are as follows:- There was a lack of fairness of the procedure that the District used to make their decision [to demolish the building], and the District did not consider all options available to them.- The BC Ombudsperson has concerns about the Council’s omission of any consideration of the impact of the Station House’s potential heritage status, [despite there being a heritage bylaw in place for the building].As such, a settlement has been agreed between the District of Hope and the BC Ombudsperson, and as part of that the District must re-consider all options for the Station House.Furthermore, following the Stop Work Order issued yesterday to the District of Hope by the Minister of Forests, Land & Natural Resource Operations, demolition has been halted for 120 days while the Minister undertakes an investigation and explores alternatives to demolition. The Stop Work Order was granted on the basis of significant historical information pertaining to the Hope Station House, and because the District of Hope had announced an intention to repeal the heritage status of the building. The Minister has power over heritage under section 16 of the Heritage Conservation Act.

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