The fate of the brick garage behind city hall is still up in the air, with strong feelings on council for keeping it and for demolishing it.
On Monday, council was presented with a petition signed by 200 people at Saturday’s Cranbrook Farmer’s Market asking for help in preserving the building.
Resident Ken Haberman forwarded the petition along with a letter stating that the group is in support of keeping the building. Haberman and Rob Amsing were in council back in June as a delegation hoping to stall the city’s destruction of the building and show that there is interest in preserving it.
“Many people believe that the Cranbrook City’s Water and Electrical Building is worth preserving, and if revitalized, will enhance downtown Cranbrook,” Haberman wrote.
Dave Humphrey also wrote a letter asking about a heritage registry. This prompted Roy Hales, who was acting CAO for the meeting, to explain how the current heritage bylaw works.
“The city has a bylaw that designates municipal properties as municipal heritage properties,” Hales said. “There is a list of nine or so properties – including city hall and the rest of its property – in which the building out back that we talk so much about is located.”
To make changes to a registered property, the owner has to get a permit from council.
There was also a heritage registry created in 2003, but Hales said that through a nomination process there have not been any buildings on the list.
“Nothing came forward to council,” Hales said. “We have this register in title, but with nothing on it.”
He said the federal and provincial governments have their own criteria, and the city should have a community heritage register that closely follows that. The city doesn’t have anyone on staff that has the qualifications or time to do an assessment of the properties that meet the criteria.
Mayor Wayne Stetski suggested council get the Wellness and Heritage Committee to respond with recommendations on the options available.
Coun. Angus Davis took a disapproving stance on those who want the building gone.
“If someone’s been in favour of demolishing this then they have no love of history or the value of old buildings,” Davis said, noting what the Baker Hill Heritage Association was able to do, which was to make sure that buildings in that area that meet heritage values conformed to a heritage style.
Coun. Gerry Warner said that the pursuit of heritage designations come and go.
“I can remember well when the Baker Hill heritage association was one of the most active groups in town,” Warner said, adding that he thought they had accomplished what they wanted and so had cooled down. “Now we have interest from a different group, again heritage interest, that is concentrating on a different part of our city.”
Warner said this new group is continuing on a successful advocacy for heritage in the city.
Council voted to ask the Wellness and Heritage Committee for recommendations.