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EDITORIAL – Another heritage building – yes, heritage building – bites the dust

Daily News building at Seymour and 4th. (Image: File photo)

An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

SOMEBODY’S got to say it — City council signed the death warrant Tuesday for yet another heritage building.

Yes, the Kamloops Daily News building is a heritage structure. Not all heritage buildings are worth saving, but it pained me to listen to several City councillors talk about it Tuesday as if it’s a piece of junk beyond repair and with no inherent value.

A few weeks ago, a Heritage Commission chair Andrew Yarmie was even quoted as saying the building is “a bit modern” to be given consideration as a heritage structure (it was built in the mid-1950s). Yet, over the years, I’ve heard heritage supporters repeatedly state that there’s no age or design restrictions on what qualifies as heritage when it comes to buildings.

The 1950s are well within range. A building doesn’t have to be a hundred years old to be worthy. It depends on a combination of age — which is a movable thing — architectural value, condition and historical importance.

Sure, the KDN building started life as a department store, but as home to the last daily newspaper Kamloops will likely ever have, it’s significant. Architecturally, it has redeeming value, especially in the beautiful marble cladding on the walls facing Seymour Street and Fourth Avenue. For sure, those who don’t view it as heritage material look at that façade and see it as too modern — if it doesn’t have a front porch, single-pane windows and gargoyles, it’s not heritage.

And, by the way, structurally it could have been saved. It’s as solid as they come. As for concerns about asbestos, I don’t remember it ever coming up as an issue during the time the paper was there but I can tell you that removing asbestos is entirely feasible. The Daily News used to operate from the basement of what is now the B.C. Lottery Corporation building, and asbestos had to be removed from there. I vividly remember the plastic sheeting and temporary wood framing inside while the process was underway.

So, the old girl is being put to death, and maybe in the long run it will result in something better, after we park on it for a few years. But, please, let’s be honest about it — another heritage building is going to be knocked down.

It’s something Kamloops has become very good at over the years.

mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca

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About Mel Rothenburger (4715 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

7 Comments on EDITORIAL – Another heritage building – yes, heritage building – bites the dust

  1. Trish Keegan // April 27, 2017 at 2:44 PM // Reply

    The building would be better for the Kamloops Museum and archives than Stuart Wood School. Easier to retrofit for museum displays, upgrade heating/air conditioning/humidity controls to museum standards, address accessibility requirements and suitable storage for artifacts. Probably cheaper in the long run than trying to do all this with the old school.

  2. realityofroughingit // April 26, 2017 at 3:41 PM // Reply

    It is a very durable building. In it’s seventy year history I don’t think the exterior of the building ever needed a single repair, except for the odd broken window. I don’t recall the building even getting washed in all those years. Maintenance should be a major consideration in design criteria. It will be a shame to see the old girl come down.

  3. I go along with City Council on this one. Sure it will cost monies to knock this down and make a parking lot or some other building but to save it as a heritage building makes no sense to me. It is just a square box with the front corner chopped off and to me not really something that is appealing. Secondly I don’t think a building aged 60 something should be classified as heritage.

  4. So long and so much money lost to achieve so little. Is anyone accountable for what goes wrong. Thanks for pointing out this was indeed a heritage building and a city landmark. I believe that at least one of the mystery proposals, and perhaps several, would have kept some or all of the structure.

  5. By the time the parking lot is finished and expenditures tallied, will we ever stand a chance to recoup the money?

    • Never Pierre, never.

    • Cynthia Ross Friedman // April 26, 2017 at 10:09 AM // Reply

      I confess I am not huge when it comes to preserving for posterity. But I look at that solid structure and flat roof and see something that certainly does not need a funeral. That building has potential still. It is very well designed and built. It is not a white elephant… It is worth more than parking lot.

      And I do not believe the ugly surface parking will leave anytime soon after it is built…

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