Orchard House will remain standing for at least another 60 days.
In response to citizens’ concerns about the planned demolition of the building at 720 22nd St. NE, across from the recreation centre, city council agreed Monday to a delay.
At the Dec. 20 meeting of the city’s Community Heritage Commission, submissions from the public about the former home of Mino’s Restaurant were heard. About a dozen people spoke in favour of preserving the building, with various ideas for its use.
Resident Dorothy Rolin listed some of the history of the building for the heritage commission meeting, noting that Lt.Colonel Bernard Scott, who served in the Indian Army, built the Colonial style bungalow named Dilkusha in 1914. The name means, ‘my loved one.’ Dilkusha was turned into The Orchard House restaurant in the late ’70s, later into Mino’s restaurant and, most recently, the Heritage Chop House.
Following input, the heritage commission drafted a motion that was entertained by city council on Monday, Jan. 16.
The commission suggested the demolition of the building be delayed by two months after possession date to allow for an evaluation of the building’s heritage values and for the commission to provide recommendations to council.
On Monday, council agreed unanimously to the delay (Coun. Chad Eliason was absent), but emphasized it is not an indication council believes the building should be saved.
The city had announced on Nov. 29 its purchase of the one-acre or 4,400 square metre property with the plan to demolish the building and use the site for future expansion of the rec centre, specifically for a new pool.
At the Dec. 5 planning meeting, Coun. Alan Harrison noted he was a member of the city’s heritage commission when Orchard House was considered for the heritage register and rejected. He said the commission was “extremely thorough”and “if it was on the heritage register I might not have voted to purchase it.”
In the motion that city council considered Monday, the commission stated the Community Heritage Register is an ongoing process.
Harrison expressed appreciation for the commission, saying he thinks the commission’s motion is the right thing to do and he would like to get input from them.
He emphasized, however, that “I don’t want it to be misinterpreted that because we pass the motion, we’re agreeing to restore (the building).”
Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond said she is hopeful the commission will come back with, “a carefully worded and non-vague” recommendation for council to consider.
Coun. Ken Jamieson said he hopes citizens can come up with a plan out of all the ideas presented at the heritage commission meeting, and he hopes city staff will be able to act as a resource for them.
Coun. Kevin Flynn echoed Harrison, stating that his support of the motion does not mean he thinks the building has significant heritage value. He is doubtful two months will be long enough for the commission to gather information.
Flynn also said he’d like to know the financial ramifications of preserving the building, as well as such costs as liability and fire insurance.
Coun. Tim Lavery suggested stretching the timeline, rather than two months after the possession date, to 60 days from Monday’s meeting. That means the recommendation will come to council’s meeting of March 27 rather than March 13.
Jamieson added that citizens could make a proposal to save the house that’s not based on heritage value.