Hope’s mayor and council now have two weeks to consider removing the Hope Station House’s heritage status.
They are set to repeal the 105-year-old building’s heritage status, which was given to the train station by a previous council in 1982. Repealing the heritage status will pave the way to having the building demolished, a fate that many see as erasing history.
A public hearing was held Monday night, and the public’s letters and statements were read into the record.
Those speaking in favour of repealing the heritage status of the building were in the minority at the meeting, and in letters sent to the District. According to a document from the District of Hope, there are 123 letters against repealing, and 38 in favour. The agenda for the hearing was so large it was split into two documents, available on the District’s website. No more submissions are being accepted as council mulls over the decision.
The submissions run the gamut from appeals from heritage proponents across the country, to colouring pages from children.
There are also several letters that ask for a six-month stay while a permanent home for the building can be found.
While the District hopes to demolish the building, there is a sizeable group of people in Hope and beyond that want to see it preserved and moved to a new site. That group believes the District of Hope is not fully considering the historical value of the building.
Others questioned if repealing the heritage status of the building would set a precedent for other heritage buildings.
Laura Saimoto, from New Westminster, spoke to the importance of history being preserved. She said she is a heritage activist and community leader in the Japanese-Canadian community.
Like others, she said removing the heritage status is supposed to follow a process and that it wasn’t followed in this case.
She said it’s an opportunity for the District of Hope to “reset” and think of what they want Hope to look like 100 years from now.
“You are the stewards of today’s heritage values of the future,” she said.
Jason Scherle spoke against saving the Station House, especially during the pandemic. He questioned the support that’s really there for restoring the building, and said that those employed through heritage tourism have a bias.
“They have absolutely no concrete plan,” he said, adding that if supporters want the building, they should raise the money and move it themselves.
Resident Janet Wort suggested the building be moved to the current site of AdvantageHOPE on Water Avenue, to become the focus of the community for visitors. She asked the council to have the same vision the council had in 1982 and even more recently, as plans moved along to make the train station a gem for the community, instead of the eyesore it’s become to many.
Council will discuss the issue again at an upcoming meeting, the next of which is scheduled for May 25.
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