North Saanich heritage home considered for demolition

The Denham Till Park residence, as it’s known, was transferred to the district in 1973 after the death of Dora Madeleine Till

Tearing down Denham Till House is problematic

One of North Saanich’s only registered heritage homes is in such bad shape that the municipality is considering demolishing it.

The Denham Till Park residence, as it’s known, was transferred to the district in 1973 after the death of Dora Madeleine Till. Her will stipulated the property — seven acres and a house — be preserved as public property, a bird sanctuary and be called Denham Till Park. Until recently, the house has been home to a park caretaker. the last tenant moved out in 2013 and it’s currently unoccupied.

In a recent staff report on the condition and future of the house, Eymond Toupin, Director of Infrastructure Services, says the municipality has to date spent $41,000 on repairs.

Now, following a recent bid process to seek contractors to further repair the building to make it habitable, council is considering its options.

According to the report, only one bid was received and it came in at $340,000 — well over the district’s budget of $150,000.

That raised a few eyebrows around the council table Monday night, Oct. 3.

“I’m disappointed at the state the house is in,” said acting mayor Murray Weisenberger, “and the blame, I suppose, can rest with many councils … for letting it deteriorate.”

Prior to 1998, the district required resident caretakers to keep up the house. After 1998, there was a standard tenant agreement in place, requiring the district to perform any work required. In his report, Toupin said “the property has been managed with minimal operational capital investment in the building or grounds.”

Now, the district faces a few options, from demolishing it (the cheapest option) or various ways of paying for repairs.

Repairs are required, stated Toupin, as the house does not currently meet B.C. Building and Health and Safety codes.

Yet tearing it down is problematic, as the house is on the district’s Heritage Register. While that status does not prevent the house from being torn down, some councillors felt it should give it some level of protection.

“This report is a 180-degree change from the last discussion,” said Coun. Celia Stock. “But $340,000-plus to do the work is somewhat shocking.”

she suggested if the house is taken down, perhaps the district can use the money in their budget for repairs, to put up an interpretive sign about the family and the park.

“I voted to restore the house the last time,” Stock continued. “Heritage is important.”

Coun. Jack McClintock said he also voted for the renovations, thinking they wouldn’t be as costly, adding the lone bid amount is “too much.”

Yet, he stated he wanted a clear message from the public before he would give the nod to demolishing the house.

Councillors debated other uses for the house if they decided to repair it, including use for refugee families. That option was questioned by staff, stating it might defeat the purpose of integrating newcomers to the country, as it is quite isolated.

The idea of exploring grant money to help fix the building was also considered.

Council voted to wait before making a decision, to allow them to look into other options and to hear from the electorate. They plan to debate the future of the Denham Till residence at a future committee of the whole meeting.

 

Just Posted

Ongoing Saanich Schools strike forces production of ‘Matilda the Musical’ to Esquimalt High

Four Seasons Musical Theatre had to find alternative venue for production

Saanich Peninsula parents accuse district of leveraging deadline

Support workers receive show of solidarity from parents during rally outside school district office

Provincial funding allows Greater Victoria immigrants, refugees better access to counselling services

The Vancouver Island Counselling Centre for Immigrants and Refugees was a recipient of new funds

Saanich ranked third for participation in FortisBC energy-efficient upgrades program

800 older apartment buildings in B.C. have received upgrades since 2015

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

Community uses loophole to paint 16 rainbow crosswalks after B.C. council says no

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

Workers’ camp at LNG facility in Kitimat takes shape

Extensive worker camp now being assembled

Former B.C. youth pastor guilty on one of five sexual assault allegations

Judge cites reasonable doubt in finding Cloverdale couple not guilty of majority of charges

238 and counting: Vancouver gelato shop sets Guinness World record for most flavours

Vince Misceo has come up with 588 different flavours over the decades

Most Read