Hope council has voted unanimously to move forward with removing the heritage designation of the Station House.
They gave two of the three required readings of the bylaw repeal on Monday night, and also voted in favour of holding a public hearing on May 10.
A vote on the third reading will take place that night as well.
But all of this came on the same day that a 120-day stop work order was issued by the province, under the Heritage Conservation Act. Council was aware of the order, and changed their planned three readings (with adoption to follow) to two, to accommodate the public hearing.
This will give more people the chance to speak to the decision at hand. Several letters are already on record, and more are now being considered along with a growing petition. Council did question where signors of the petition were from.
But many letters read into the record on Monday night noted that the Station House is not just a matter of municipal heritage, but provincial and national as well. The Station House was the last stop for more than 8,000 Japanese-Canadian internment prisoners, before loading buses that would take them to Tashme, for example.
The Station House is also unique in design, and was the last in operation of its kind.
The coalition working to save the building was able to tour the building recently and refutes the claim that it is in very poor condition. In fact, they say, the building is in fair condition, with no apparent rot or mold, and is structurally sound with a good roof. It is a good candidate both for renovations and for moving, they’ve been told by the Nickel Brothers, a professional moving company.
Others wrote in to note they still have memories of the building, and that Hope needs to take care of preserving its own history.
But the question of who would pay for the renovations continues to be a concern.
The district has spent about $300,000 in the past, getting it to the renovation stage it currently is in. The coalition is planning to apply for grants to pay for the rest of the project, and moving it to a new location. They hope to find a location in Hope for the building, but have already started reaching out to community leaders nearby for support, in order to save the building from destruction.
They also dispute the costs needed to restore the building, saying the $2-million price tag quoted by the district would be for the “Cadillac version” of a restoration.
More information on the public hearing is expected in the coming days.
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.