While it may seem like a novel idea, restoring the old Colwood pub to its former glory could be challenging – and costly.
Earlier this week, the Onni Group announced it would gift the building to an individual or group interested in taking it, but the new owner would have to pay for the removal costs. If the building isn’t moved by Oct. 15, it will be demolished.
Since the announcement there has been a lot of misinformation circulating on social media and Mayor Carol Hamilton reiterated the building is not and was not owned by the City of Colwood. She added, at this point, it’s also not likely something the City would pursue buying.
“You lose a bit of prominence at the corner but it’s been gone for quite some time,” she said.
Another misconception is that there were conditions in development permits that protected the old building in the original site design and the new proposal submitted by Onni.
Hamilton noted that it was her understanding that the site’s original developer, League Financial Partners, always intended to demolish the building but when Royal Roads University expressed interest in it, it was relocated to allow the university some time to work out whether it would be viable for them.
But according to Hamilton that didn’t turn out to be very financially feasible. “Just moving it from Colwood Corners to Royal Roads would be in the neighbourhood of $200,000,” she said, adding power lines and other utilities would have to be temporarily moved to allow for the building to pass.
She noted that figure doesn’t include updating the pub to meet today’s building codes, which would be required.
The building was moved back in 2012 and since then it has sat on blocks off of Jerome Road, behind the Colwood Corners site. It was cut into three sections for the move and Hamilton noted, since most of the plumbing was added onto the exterior during different renovations, a lot of it was removed by an excavator.
“The building virtually has no plumbing … when you add up all the bits and pieces it’s an expensive project,” she added.
One of the other major concerns from residents is the lack of heritage status for the building, which is a 1936 Tudor-style build.
But while it has that old look to it, Hamilton noted the original building burned down and the current version has been so heavily modified over the years that it no longer resembles what it once looked like.
When compared to a building such as the Colwood dairy house, it lacks the original elements that make it a heritage building. “The history is more of the Colwood Corners [site] and not necessarily the pub,” she explained. “Yes, there is a story to tell – let’s not lose the story – but the two don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.”
She added the building doesn’t even resemble the pub most residents remember as its last operator upgraded a lot of its features and furnishings. “It was a great place to come and eat and hang out … But that’s not history, that’s not heritage.”