Dozens of demonstrators hoisted signs and walked or biked through Hope on Saturday (March 20), continuing the call to save the Hope Station House.
The walkathon saw roughly 80 members of the Coalition for the Preservation of the Hope Station House and their supporters carrying handmade signs and noisemakers through Hope from the District Hall to the Station House.
On March 19, the day before the weekend walking demonstration, the coalition delivered a legal letter to the district asking for an immediate, temporary stay of demolition. In addition, the grassroots organization is making an application with the Minster of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operation for a stop work order. The coalition cited the 1982 Town of Hope By-Law 633, which officially designates the Station House as a municipal heritage site, and the corresponding provincial Heritage Conservation Act as grounds to stay demolition in favour of preservation.
Coalition member Christian Ward confirmed the advocate organization for the Station House has a viable option “on the table” for relocating the building.
“We are willing to enter into discussions with the district if they are willing to engage with the coalition,” Ward said in a statement. “We are exploring all options for the future of the Station House.”
Ward added demolishing the Station House would cause “permanent, irreparable harm” to Hope and local history.
If the application to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operation is successful, demolition work on the Station House could be delayed by up to 120 days.
Hope councillors unanimously approved a resolution to more forward with demolition during their Feb. 22 meeting. While the demolition deadline for the Station House was then slated for April 9, all is currently quiet at the Station House as it sits, empty, surrounded by a yellow metal construction fence peppered with signs from the people who want to save the building.
Activity is all but at a standstill as the District of Hope as the district and Ombudsperson’s Office agreed to halt demolition pending the Ombudsperson’s investigation into multiple complaints from the coalition.
As of publication, the Ombudsperson’s investigation is still ongoing; the coalition listed 10 complaints against council, including an alleged lack of transparency in dealings concerning the Station House and allegedly neglecting the maintenance of the building, which was under district stewardship.
The demolition of the Station House is part of a court settlement between the district and the provincial government, the result of a past lawsuit against the province after they failed to undertake consultation with First Nations before attempting land ownership transfer to the district. The current lease on the land is set to expire at the end of this May.
Hope is considered to be on the ancestral land of the Chawathil First Nation.