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Campbell River debates heritage designation

The Grotto is all that remains of the former Lourdes Hospital and is on a list of city heritage sites. - Kristen Douglas/The Mirror
The Grotto is all that remains of the former Lourdes Hospital and is on a list of city heritage sites.
— image credit: Kristen Douglas/The Mirror

City staff attempted last week to start putting properties on the city’s brand-new Community Heritage Inventory without notifying the owners.

Michele Sirett, the city’s recreation and culture supervisor, brought forward a report to council with a list of 26 sites and objects around the city known to have heritage value or character.

While some of the sites, such as Big Rock, Pier Street, and the Big House at Robert Ostler Park are public areas, some are people’s homes and council questioned why city staff would not first approach the home owners.

Sirett said staff could “certainly do that but we’re not required to under the Local Government Act.”

Coun. Mary Storry replied that she thought it “might be nice to let them know.”

To which Sirett said “if they really don’t want it on the list, I’m sure there’s no problem in taking it off.”

The list, which is the lowest level of a three-pronged heritage program council recently adopted last month, is an informal listing and database of properties identified by local government as having heritage character. Being on the list does not protect the property from demolition or re-location but recognizes the site as having potential heritage value. Sites can be added to the inventory at any time providing they are vetted by the city’s new Community Services, Recreation and Culture Commission and then approved by council.

According to the Local Government Act, an affected property owner does not need to be notified, which caused some concern among council.

“While in the report it does not say it’s required, I think it’s a courtesy to the land owners to at least be approached before being put on the list,” Coun. Andy Adams said. “It could be as simple as a flyer saying ‘your property is of interest, would you have any objections to being on the city heritage register.’”

Coun. Claire Moglove agreed.

“I don’t see why we can’t get the owners’ approval first,” she said.

City Manager Andy Laidlaw said city staff could put together an informational flyer and distribute it to the various property owners before the list is officially assembled and properties go up on the city’s Community Heritage Program web page. The top listed properties will have a short profile and a few photographs provided.

Sirett said the Heritage Inventory “allows for greater heritage awareness for the public and for property owners (and) can also be used by the city for land use planning.”

Council chose to hold off on approving the list of properties for inclusion on the Heritage Inventory until staff send out an informational flyer to the affected property owners.

Homes up for consideration are: Oscar Thulin’s former home on 14th, Palmer House on the Old Island Highway, Farewell House on Dogwood Street, Eric Storbach House on 9th Avenue, Vanstone House on Perkins Road, Masters House on Masters Road, Ellenor Cliff House on the Campbell River Reserve, and the home beside Haig-Brown House. Other notable sites staff are recommending be put on the Inventory include the former courthouse and jail on Pier Street, Big Rock, the federal building on the corner of Alder Street and 10th Avenue, the Tidemark Theatre, the Quinsam Hotel, the Campbell River Lodge, the Grotto once stationed outside the former Lourdes Hospital, and the Big House at Robert Ostler Park.

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