North Delta’s Firehall Centre for the Arts moved one step closer to demolition this week as council voted unanimously to give third reading to a proposed housing development on the site.
Developer H. Sharma and Associates Inc. wants to buy the property at 11489 84th Ave. from the city for their proposed Delta Gardens development.
The site, adjacent to the North Delta Recreation Centre, would then be consolidated with two neighbouring properties the developer owns and turned into 136 apartment and townhome units.
A new arts centre would be built beside the nearby recreation centre using proceeds from the sale of the municipally-owned property.
City staff said Delta would receive $4.4 million from sale of the Firehall Centre property, which would be in turn be put towards the construction of a new centre to include a bigger purpose-built theatre and more gallery spaces.
Architectural rendering of the proposed housing that would replace the Firehall Centre for the Arts. Photo credit: Owen Munro
Council voted unanimously in support of the project at the regular council meeting on Feb. 6. This follows two rounds of public consultation on the development, where many area residents voiced their concerns about increased density and their sentimental attachment to the old firehall built in the 1960s.
Some even petitioned to establish the Firehall Centre as a heritage site in order to prevent the developer from knocking it down.
At Monday’s meeting, Coun. Robert Campbell said the Firehall Centre was “a tired old building that has no heritage potential, no heritage status – it did its function.”
He did, however, suggest placing the centre’s commemorative plaque in a “prominent location” in the new building.
Mayor Jackson spoke of the need to embrace some much needed change in the community.
“There are a lot of changes everywhere, and I think we need to encompass some of these changes,” said Mayor Lois Jackson. “I believe we can do much better in terms of an arts centre.”
Speaking in support of the project, Coun. Sylvia bishop said the new centre would provide double the hours of the current facility.
Coun. Heather King said it would be a couple of months before the project reaches fourth reading and its subsequent final adoption.
-with files from Owen Munro