Hope – The continuing saga over the fate of the Hope Train Station took another turn at the Monday August 9 Council meeting. Council voted to repeal the heritage bylaw. Councillor Medlock was the only one to speak against and vote against the repeal. Those in favour of salvaging the station are concerned that this paves the way for demolition.
The District owns the building, but the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure own the property.
The District feels the building has outlasted its life span and should be torn down.
Activists who want to save the building feel it is salvageable and can be turned into a museum if a suitable property can be found.
In April, the BC Ombudsperson ruled that their investigation was 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].
A stop work order for any demo has expired.
FVN has obtained a copy of a letter from the BC Heritage Branch sent to Hope Council, which in part reads – Heritage Branch offering $150,000 in fiscal year 2023 — AND ‘confidence’ in Hope’s chances of getting further grant money to complete the move and renovation:
As you are aware, the Heritage Branch has invested considerable time and resources during the period of the Stop Work Order (the order) to encourage and facilitate District of Hope-led conservation of this significant heritage property. The order will cease to have effect on the 10th ; nevertheless, I hope that the community connections we have nurtured and the professionally-gathered information we have provided, continue to inform council discussions going forward. In particular, I encourage council to review the information on heritage significance, building condition and the cost of rehabilitation that we have provided, before your formal council discussion on Monday 9thAugust 2021. It is clear from our community engagement that the District’s Water Avenue property is favored by the not-for-profit entities who have led the advocacy for saving the Station House from demolition and that they would like to see it put to community or institutional use there. From a land-use perspective, the location seems ideal for orientating visitors to Hope, acknowledging the area’s diverse cultural heritage, and for communicating its continuing role as a rail, road and river gateway. While to my knowledge, the District is not currently contemplating the approach described above, I wanted to reiterate the offer of a collaboration with Heritage Branch that I suggested at the facilitated session, but that was not pursued at that time, with some details of what I was thinking, provided here without prejudice: If the District would maintain the heritage designation of the station house, continue to own it, and pay to move it to the Water Avenue property to serve a community or institutional use, the Heritage Branch would be willing to provide contracted, professional and construction services to the value of $150K in FY 23 for the specific purposes of designing and constructing a foundation, and for servicing and repairing the building on that location. This could be led by the District alone, or through an alliance (via a management agreement, a lease or a rental agreement, say) with one or more of the not-for-profit entities that have been involved, to one degree or another, in the exploration of alternatives to demolishing the building (I have copied representatives of those groups that I believe have demonstrated serious interest). From my 30+ years of experience managing heritage property, I have observed in their representations to council and in separate conversations, many of the elements that make for sustainable stewardship of an historic place. However, I understand that the cost of moving, founding and rehabilitating the station house exceed this $150K even with the funds the District has reserved for moving (or demolishing) the building; indeed Heritageworks report indicates that these costs are anticipated to be in the order of $585K and $695K. With this shortfall in mind I would like to remind the District that the provincial government recently announced 150 Time Immemorial, New grants to promote reconciliation by educating people about B.C.’s past (gov.bc.ca). The program is described thus: [the] ‘Time Immemorial grant program will fund projects that educate people about B.C.’s colonial past, advance reconciliation and promote inclusivity and diversity for the province’s future. Indigenous communities, local governments and not-for-profit heritage organizations with an Indigenous or heritage mandate are eligible to submit applications starting in fall 2021.’ I am somewhat confident (pending the announcement of the actual programme) that repair and enhancement of heritage infrastructure will be serviced by this programme, and I encourage the District to seriously consider Heritage Branch’s collaboration offer and the potential to leverage 150 Time immemorial funding using the funds conditionally on offer in this email to rehabilitate the station house. Finally, I was happy to have an opportunity for Kevin House and I to meet with you simultaneously and to reiterate my commitment that nothing Heritage Branch has done during the period of the order, or in this conceptual offer, is intended to frustrate the License of Occupation agreement between the BC Transportation and Financing Authority and the District. If the district decides not to pursue this offer, what I would request is that you maintain open lines of communication with the Heritage Branch to ensure that we have every opportunity to continue to encourage and facilitate optimum heritage conservation outcomes on any further course of action that is contemplated for the station house. Yours sincerely,
|Richard Linzey MRAIC Director Integrated Resource Operations | Heritage Branch W (778) 698‐4184 | C (250) 889-8882 Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development|
Discussion starts at the 51 minute mark: