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WBRA Letter to Council regarding demolition of heritage house at 820 Dunsmuir Rd.

April 11, 2021

To: Esquimalt Mayor and Council

Laurie Hurst, Bill Brown

Re: April 12, 2021 Council Meeting, Agenda Item #9 - 820 Dunsmuir Road

It has come to our attention that staff’s Request for Decision regarding the demolition of the Tyn-Y-Coed heritage house located at 820 Dunsmuir Road will come to Council on April 12th.

Staff advises that this is further to Council’s Dec. 21, 2020 direction to staff to “…initiate an appraisal of the subject property and to work with the applicant on a development that would retain the registered heritage building”. It is our understanding that a) the appraisal is complete; b) it forms part of the basis for the option recommended to Council by staff; and c) it cannot be shared unless Council approves its release.

We request that Council release the appraisal for public review. Transparency is important, as is the need for Council members to be open about the information they use to inform their decisions. As we will not have prior access to the appraisal document, we ask that during Council’s consideration of this matter on April 12th members discuss the outcomes of the appraisal (the costs) so that the viewing public can understand the rational for Council’s decision(s).

We also request that Council make every effort to encourage the adaptive reuse of this historic building. Adaptive reuse or the retrofitting of historic buildings for new uses, allows structures to retain their historic attributes while providing for modern needs, often times being incorporated into the design of new development proposals. These historic structures not only reinforce our sense of place and the special and unique character of a community, they are municipal assets and their rehabilitation and adaptive repurposing stand to generate a wide range of social, economic and environmental benefits in the future.

Our West Bay community is under extreme development pressure and unfortunately we are at risk of losing many of these historic buildings to this pressure. We ask that Council do what it can to ensure that these landmarks are woven into the fabric of how our community develops in the future. To this end we ask that you adhere to the Township’s own heritage policy and maintain this property on the Esquimalt Community Heritage Register and proceed to adopt a heritage designation bylaw to preserve the property at 820 Esquimalt Road.

Esquimalt Heritage Policy Update

Heritage Context Plan

Heritage Designation

The potential demolition of this important heritage property brings to the forefront the need for the reestablishment of the Esquimalt Heritage Committee – a committee of Council, reporting to Council.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours truly,

Rozlynne Mitchell

Chair, West Bay Residents Association

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