With council’s final word on the subject, the Hope Station House will be demolished as planned.
During the Monday evening (Feb. 22) council meeting, District Council passed a resolution denying a stay demolition for the Hope Station House.
Janet Wort of the Coalition for the Preservation of the Hope Station House presented before District Council, updating officials on the coalition’s most recent findings in the effort to save the historic building and to ask for more time to save the Station House. Following the staff reports, roughly an hour after the coalition presented before council, Mayor Peter Robb called for a resolution. When the agenda was published the previous Friday and in the hours leading up to the meeting, it was not immediately clear whether or not the district would decide anything concerning the Station House this week.
“Council represents all the community and are called upon to make difficult decisions on behalf of the community,” Robb said. “A resolution is not necessary but may help with more clarity to the public at large and to the staff.”
Though a number of councillors were conflicted for several reasons, the council was ultimately unanimous in their decision.
“This has been talk for almost 10 years now, since the district has taken over the building,” said Councillor Dusty Smith, who has been on council for the past six years. “[This decision] is not taken lightly. We have a strong agreement with the province finally and to go back to ask them to sit on it and wait, I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.”
Councillor Scott Medlock said while he appreciated the enthusiasm and the effort to save the Station House in the past few weeks, that same enthusiasm and positivity would have had more potential for change months or even years ago.
“We did a lot to help preserve that building, and it didn’t work out the way any of us wanted it to,” Medlock said. “Back then, we were fighting every single council meeting, and that’s why it took so long to make a decision as to what was going to happen. I was an advocate and a fan, and I wanted to save that building, but I agree that I can’t see a way forward with the building now.”
Both Robb and Councillor Victor Smith also acknowledged how emotional and difficult the decision was.
During Monday’s meeting, the coalition specifically asked for a one-month delay in awarding the Station House demolition contract. During the Feb. 8 meeting two weeks prior, the coalition asked for a six-month stay of demolition for the landmark building. The district did not make a final decision on the stay of demolition during the Feb. 8 meeting.
Once a community centre of sorts, the Station House currently sits on Old Hope Princeton Way, where it has sat vacant for a number of years. Due to a court settlement between the District of Hope and the province following an important oversight on the province’s part, the building is scheduled to be demolished this spring.
According to the agreement between the province of B.C. and Hope, the building must be off the property by May 31. The tentative demolition deadline is set for April 9.
The Coalition for the Preservation of the Hope Station House consists of 13 members. As of Sunday, Feb. 21, the coalition gathered 2,105 signatures for the petition to save the Station House and 60 letters of support from community members and organizations across the province.
In a statement released Wednesday (Feb. 24), the coalition said they were “incredibly disappointed” with the district’s decision.
The coalition’s brief presentation before council went over possible funding streams to restore the Station House (three streams totaling more than $500,000) as well as the potential long-term economic and tourism benefits to the district of Hope.
Wort said the Station House is one of two remaining community heritage buildings and the last of three train stations once in Hope. She added by having the Station House restored, Hope could benefit from heritage and local history tourism, thereby potentially boosting the economy, particularly through the history-loving boomer demographic.
“Our Coalition and its thousands of supporters had an inspiring and compelling vision for the future of this building,” the statement read. “For school children to be able to visit a museum housed in a hundred-year-old building would have helped history to come alive to them. We are so disappointed that this final opportunity to do something special with this building for the benefit of our community, has been turned down.”
The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 8 at 7 p.m. via Facebook Live at Facebook.com/DistrictOfHope.