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.