Demolishing of historic home prompts discussion of need for preservation alongside need for more housing in Penticton

Heritage home comes down

Casey Richardson

When do housing needs for the community outweigh preserving historical buildings, and vice versa?

One of Penticton’s historical homes, located at 452 Lakeshore Dr., started to be demolished on Tuesday, prompting the discussion of the balance between the two in the Penticton community.

The home, built in 1936, was originally on the heritage registry but was later taken off since the owners felt it hindered the development.

“That house was put on the heritage registry here in Penticton some time ago,” Coun. Judy Sentes said, adding that the owners didn’t really need to take it off in order to develop the property.

“They truly didn’t understand, in my opinion, that they could do what they wanted. The heritage registry was simply an acknowledgment, it didn’t preclude them from doing anything.”

Sentes said she thinks the community needs a better understanding of what the heritage registry means, as the liaison to the Heritage and Museum Advisory Committee.

“I think there needs to be more understanding, and in that is clarity and an education process too, for everyone in the community because there’s a lot of confusion...I think we have to do something, and more fairly quickly now because once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

One of the main misunderstandings is putting a property on the heritage registry rather than getting a covenant.

“There was an understanding that if you’re on the heritage registry, you’re protected, and that’s not the case. All it does is acknowledge that that is a heritage property. But if you choose to sell it, or whoever owns it chooses to develop it, there really is no protection,” Sentes said.

“If you have a heritage home and you would wish for it to have protection, then you can seek council to put a covenant on it...The only way it comes off is if both the property owner of the time and the council of the day choose to sign it off.”

The Riordan House, located at 689 Winnipeg St., recently had the heritage conservation covenant registered on the title of the property and approved by council in order to protect the house from any future redevelopment.

“I think what is required is a balance. We have lots of opportunities and sometimes I think the choices that people have are not always evident to them, it doesn’t have to be a this or a that.”

A new four-plex is planned to start construction at the property once the old house is removed. While part of the roof was taken off Tuesday, construction crews said the buildings are a bit tougher to tear down than they expected, so they’re regrouping to create a new plan.

“We definitely don’t want to lose the heritage, absolutely not. But housing is an issue too, and we need to find solutions for that,” Sentes added.

The developer refused Castanet’s request for an interview.

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