Former Esquimalt municipal hall coming down despite protests

Old buildings to be torn down in August

Despite a last-ditch effort by some Esquimalt residents to spare the township’s former municipal hall from demolition, it will be torn down by the end of August.

“It’s a sad day for arts and heritage in Esquimalt,” said Esquimalt resident and artist Colin MacLock. “(Mayor and council are) stewards of our heritage buildings. This is like shooting themselves in the foot.”

The hall has long been on the chopping block to pave the way for development of the village core, but before council decided Monday night to award a deconstruction contract, MacLock and Victoria College of Art president Peter Such said the college could host arts classes in the vacant building.

Council was divided over whether to demolish the buildings this summer or delay work until 2012 until Coun. Lynda Hundleby changed her mind about postponing the project.

“It’s probably a little late, but it sounds wonderful,” Hundleby said of community interest  in using the building as part of the arts college.

Council voted 4-2 to award the deconstruction contract to Saanich-based H.L. Demolition and Waste Management, with opposition from Councillors Bruce McIldoon and Alison Gaul.

“You knock down the community’s last heritage building, then now (the current municipal hall) becomes the heritage building,” said McIldoon.

Despite Such’s assertion that restoration of the 1929 hall would be minimal, a 1998 report to the township estimated that by 2005 hall upgrades and repair would cost $800,000.

“I believe that building is long past its time,” said Coun. Meagan Brame, noting to the expense required to upgrade accessibility features in the building, which also requires electrical and seismic upgrades and is ridden with mould, dust and asbestos.

As part of the demolition package, the company will destroy five municipal buildings, including homes on Lampson and Fraser streets, the old hall and former public works and storage buildings for about $347,000, plus tax. Grass will be planted in their place.

Demolition equipment is scheduled to arrive at the sites by early next week, and work will begin on the homes first, said Jeff Miller, Esquimalt’s director of engineering and public works, adding that the buildings are expected to be torn down by Aug. 31.

Once the buildings come down, contaminated land at the former public works site must undergo an environmental study. The assessment and cleanup plan have been budgeted to cost the township $75,000, and if grant money can be secured from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, another $50,000.

“It could be a benign site, or maybe surprise, surprise, there could be something worse,” Miller said.

Just Posted

Downtown Victoria businesses cite parking issues as top challenge

A report put forward by the Downtown Victoria Business Association asked owners for input

Pair of Saanich fires, including one that resulted in a death, remain under investigation

Saanich Fire expect to wrap up investigation into Richmond Road Tuesday

Reserve, ride-share, be prepared: Tips from BC Ferries for travelling this Canada Day long weekend

Tips from BC Ferries for smooth sailing this Canada Day long weekend

Wind gusts turn away cruise ships from Victoria harbour

Weather conditions make docking difficult for large ships

Slow down for maintenance on the Malahat this week

Minor touch-ups and repairs scheduled Monday through Thursday

Video shows fireworks shot at swan in Alberta

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident in Grande Prairie

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

Heroism medal for B.C. woman who tried to save wheelchair-bound man stuck on rail tracks

Julie Callaghan awarded Carnegie Medal from U.S.-based foundation for ‘extraordinary heroism’

B.C. students’ camping trip goes ahead despite tents getting stolen

Nanaimo businesses, school staff and parents ensure trip goes on

Only legal pot shop between Vancouver and Kamloops now open

Private cannabis store on Skwah land in Chilliwack is first B.C. licensee to be Indigenous owned

Most Read