The future of the Hope Station House was up for discussion again at Tuesday’s council meeting.
The night included a presentation from Christian and Erica Ward of the Hope Station House Society, a third reading of a bylaw repeal to remove the building’s heritage designation, and a statement from Mayor Peter Robb.
“You are all aware this is a lingering and controversial issue that has taken some 40 years to get to this situation,” he said. “This community needs council to take decisions to finally resolve this longstanding situation.”
He noted there would be unhappy people no matter what they decide to do. Their choices, as laid out by Robb, are to demolish the building and be done with it, to allow a third party to take control of it and move it out of the District of Hope, or to make it more attractive to any First Nations wanting to either accept it or to move it to First Nation land.
He said that repealing the heritage designation of the building is necessary for any of these options.
Robb also noted that the District of Hope does not anticipate any future municipal use for the building, nor does it have the land for it.
But he added that they aren’t done entertaining proposals from the public, including the society.
“There is the possibility that if the District receives a timely, feasible proposal by a third party, to take control of the building and move it to another site within the municipal boundaries (at its expense); that a new heritage designation bylaw could then be enacted to protect the building at its new site and in line with the current Provincial heritage legislation,” he said.
He said that AdvantageHOPE “has made it clear that they now have no interest in the building and feel it could not be renovated in a cost-effective and functionally effective way.”
Following his comments, council voted unanimously on the third reading of the bylaw repeal. They will vote to adopt the bylaw, removing the heritage designation, at a future meeting.
Erica Ward said they appreciated the time to speak at the beginning of the meeting, in which they encouraged the District and council to take part in future meetings and join creative discussion in future plans for the building.
We want to see the Station House saved, and we believe in it as a municipal asset,” Ward told The Standard. “This is why we return to council, to encourage them to engage with us and other supporters of the Station House, to work together to secure a positive future for this important heritage building.”
Council did engage with the Wards after their presentation, and one of the questions raised was why they haven’t raised any money yet.
“Whilst community groups are currently engaged in fundraising - along with a wide range of other activities to support the preservation of the building - fundraising is complicated by the fact that the District owns the Station House, but do not support the community efforts to save the building,” Ward said. “Nobody else currently has any legal status in relation to the Station House, and there are no agreed partnership arrangements that allow anyone else to have any formal involvement with the building. Seeking significant donations on this basis is unrealistic.”
But there is grant money available, as has been mentioned all along, that could offset both capital costs and ongoing expenses, she added.
She also said there is renewed and growing support for saving the building.
“Although the mayor commented that the District does not anticipate any future municipal use for the building, we would strongly urge them to reconsider this stance,” Ward said. “Operating as a Visitor Centre/Museum is the most common adaptive re-use option for historic train stations in our province. It’s a model that works, and would see us become part of a booming network of history and heritage.”
During the third reading, Coun. Scott Medlock said he was still interested in hearing more from those who want to save the building.
“My ears are still open,” he said. “I’m still willing to talk and hear about this.”
The Hope Station House was given its heritage designation on July 8, 1982 by the council of the day. At that time, it was on different land. It now sits on Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure land. It needs to be moved as per an agreement between the ministry and the District of Hope.
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