Yellow construction fencing surrounds the Hope Station House. As quickly as initial demolition work began, it was ordered to halt on Friday following an agreement between the B.C. Ombudsperson’s Office and the District of Hope. (Photos/ Adam Louis)

Yellow construction fencing surrounds the Hope Station House. As quickly as initial demolition work began, it was ordered to halt on Friday following an agreement between the B.C. Ombudsperson’s Office and the District of Hope. (Photos/ Adam Louis)

LETTER: Food for thought on the Station House

Arlene Webster criticizes Hope’s lack of action preserving the Station House

Editor’s note: This letter has been edited for length and clarity. To read the complete letter, visit hopestandard.com.

Editor:

Here are some facts for the citizens of Hope to consider:

1. In June 1982, the Town of Hope passed Bylaw 633 (under Section 11 of the Heritage Conservation Act), declaring the Hope Station House a municipal heritage site.

2. In January 2015, the Hope Station House Community Arts and Heritage Society transferred the Station House to the District of Hope under the condition that the district agrees to preserve the building and celebrate its legacy in all future decisions regarding its management and/or development. If the Station House is in worse condition today than it was in 2015 – and there is no doubt this is the case – it happened while it was under the stewardship of the district. They were the owners and directly responsible for its upkeep.

2. In 2018, the public first learned there was a problem with the land transfer deal between the province and the district.

3. In July 2020, the public first learned the district had sued the province and received a $650,000 settlement over the botched land deal.

4. Between July 2020 and December 2020 the district abandoned its promise, made in January 2015, to preserve the building and made the decision to instead demolish it.

5. In December 2020, the public first officially learned of the District’s plans for demolition, the efforts of which would later become the Coalition for the Preservation of the Hope Station House began with the creation of a petition.

6. Only the District, as owners of the Station House, can apply for grants to restore the building. The District did not communicate to the community that they were no longer moving forward with plans to restore the Station House. Without knowledge of the District’s plans to demolish the Station House being made public until December 2020, the community saw no reason to organize and offer their help.

7. The Station House continues to be protected by a local heritage bylaw (Bylaw 633) to this day.

So why would the community have seen it necessary to form a group to protect the Station House if it was supposed to be protected as a heritage site by municipal legislation that had been passed by the Town of Hope?

8. The current district council agrees Hope should have a physical Visitor Centre, but instead of saving the Station House, they are exploring putting it in a new building which has a price tag at least twice as much as the cost to restore the Station House.

9. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. The district did not give the community an opportunity to save this building. There was no public consultation done to give the community a chance to put forward alternative solutions. Demolition is an action of last resort, to be considered only when all other alternative paths have been exhausted. This was not done.

10. The last time the community was asked if they wanted to pitch in to save the Station House, they came out in full force. Three community groups and dozens of volunteers came together for the effort. They were not failing – they were doing it! The district decided to take the project in-house and as such robbed the community of their opportunity to contribute. If the district’s original thoughts had changed, they should, at the very least, give the community one last opportunity to band together again to save the Station House.

Arlene Webster

Hope

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