News

Public to get a look inside Orchard House

Two sides of the debate as to whether the city should preserve the old Orchard House, originally named Dilkusha, are coming forward to share their views with city council. The issue will return to the table on March 27. - Barb Brouwer/Observer
Two sides of the debate as to whether the city should preserve the old Orchard House, originally named Dilkusha, are coming forward to share their views with city council. The issue will return to the table on March 27.
— image credit: Barb Brouwer/Observer

Before any decisions are made on the future of the former Orchard House, the public will get a chance to look for themselves.

City council has decided to hold an open house at 720 - 22nd St. NE, also the former site of Mino's Restaurant, across from the SASCU Recreation Centre. The open house will take place on Saturday, March 4 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond made the suggestion at council's Feb. 14 meeting, pointing out that a lot of people, including  two letter writers included on the agenda, had been expressing their views about the property.

In most cases, she said, the property being considered as a potential heritage site is private land, whereas this site is public, having been purchased by the city.

The city announced on Nov. 29 last year its purchase of the one-acre or 4,400- square-metre property with the plan to demolish the building and use the site for future expansion of the rec centre, specifically for a new pool.

Regarding the open house, Wallace Richmond said citizens could then "see for  themselves whether we keep it or demolish it. Then people could have all the information available to them."

Her motion was carried unanimously by council. (Coun. Ken Jamieson was absent.)

Coun. Alan Harrison expressed his agreement.

"I think giving people the opportunity is the common sense thing to do," he said. "We (council) had an opportunity to tour through the house and I think that was useful."

Coun. Kevin Flynn also agreed.

"I was reluctant to have this occur, but after having had the tour myself, I think people will come to their own conclusions – they might not be the same as my conclusions. I'm hoping it doesn't take too much staff time, or maybe council could do it."

Resident Leonard Molberg wrote to council to voice his approval of demolition.

"When I am old, and have outlived my usefulness, I will die and be gone forever. Why can't old buildings do the same?"

Doug Hlina suggested that those people who are adamant about saving the building ought to set up a fund to raise money for the building's move to another location and its continual maintenance.

"Do not waste my tax dollars on ongoing repairs, maintenance, insurance and security this building will require for years to come."

Although the building was considered previously for the heritage register and rejected, the Community Heritage Commission responded to submissions at its Dec. 20 meeting by drafting a motion for council.

It suggested the demolition of the building be delayed by two months after possession date to allow for an evaluation of the building’s heritage values and for the commission to provide recommendations to council.

Council agreed, so the commission's recommendation are expected to come to council's meeting on March 27.

 

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