CFB Esquimalt Work Point buildings demolition under fire

Military historian believes others options should be examined

CFB Esquimalt is under no obligation to inform the public before demolishing historic buildings, but a local military historian thinks it is a courtesy that should be given.

Built in 1940, the former Work Point Town Hall, building 1079, at the base is currently being demolished.

The building has only been used sporadically since 1994, when members of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, who had been using it as office space and storage, moved out, said Capt. Jennifer Jackson, CFB Esquimalt base public affairs officer.

Another building at the base being demolished is building 1030, built in 1887.

“[It] was originally used as ammunition storage, followed by regular storage for the PPCLI until 1994,” said Jackson, adding this building has also only been sporadically used since 1994.

These demolitions are part of CFB Esquimalt’s consolidation project, in which around eight old and unused buildings will be demolished at the base by 2018.

Jack Bates, former Esquimalt resident and local military historian, believes CFB Esquimalt should not demolish buildings without first discussing other options with the community.

“That building could have been relocated if people had an opportunity to be involved in it or know about it,” said Bates, adding that demolishing without looking into other options first is unacceptable from a heritage point of view.

Jackson said selling DND buildings to third parties is an option if the building is no longer required by DND but is still suitable or desirable to other levels of government or local citizens.

“In these situations, the building is generally moved off DND property, and the costs must be borne by the new owner,” said Jackson. “[However], if a building is declared surplus, after evaluation through criteria such as use, location and condition, it may simply be demolished with no further consultation,” said Jackson.

Bates said there should be more consultation with the public before all demolitions.

“They are declaring surplus, and that’s quite true, but that doesn’t mean that they just have to be demolished,” said Bates. “I like to preserve the military heritage.”