City's Fragile West End Heritage Under Immediate Threat

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 11, 2014

 City's Fragile West End Heritage Under Immediate Threat

At the City of St. John's Council meeting held on March 10, 2014, the Council ignored the recommendations of the Heritage Advisory Committee and approved the demolition of 18 and 20 Springdale Street. Council's disregard for the recommendations of the Heritage Advisory Committee, which was created from a panel of experts for the sole purpose of advising Council on these matters, will place the future of the City's heritage structures in grave jeopardy.

 "This is a sad day for heritage conservation in St. John's," said Robyn Pike, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Historic Trust. "By denying heritage status to the buildings at 18 and 20 Springdale Street we fear the City has lost all control of the fate of these two buildings. Any opportunity to incorporate the buildings into a new development or to retain any of the buildings' features in a new development has likely been lost."

 With Council's decision, the buildings are now in danger of demolition with only verbal presentations as to what the Salvation Army plans for the site. Council is not in receipt of a new development proposal and therefore cannot confirm or ensure what the owners are planning to do with the site in the future, other than demolish the existing buildings. There are no safeguards in place to ensure the type of development proposed will occur. These valuable buildings are part of the historical fabric of the city, once they are gone the land could be developed in any way the owners see fit or sold to the highest bidder.

 "The Heritage Advisory Committee conducted a thorough investigation and evaluation of both properties," said Pike. "It appears there is a lack of respect and deference for the committee members and their opinions by this Council."

 The Newfoundland and Labrador Historic Trust is concerned that the City of St. John's has set a dangerous precedent by which it will be perfectly acceptable for developers to request emergency decisions of Council based on arbitrary funding deadlines denying the time to fully review and evaluate buildings with regard to issues of heritage conservation. This is yet another example of an owner letting a building fall into disrepair and then using the cost of repair as justification for its demolition.

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Media Contact:

Deborah O'Rielly

Executive Director

Newfoundland and Labrador Historic Trust

E-mail: coordinator@historictrust.ca

 

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