Coun­cil­lors: Site left to ‘de­mo­li­tion by ne­glect’

PressReader - BRUCE_CAROL_ROWE Channel - Coun­cil­lors: Site left to ‘de­mo­li­tion by ne­glect’
The loss of a his­toric Cal­gary home was an avoid­able case of ne­glect, say two city coun­cil­lors de­mand­ing to know why restora­tion plans for a cen­tury-old land­mark were shelved.The Enoch Sales House — a 115-year-old Queen Anne Re­vival in Vic­to­ria Park — was the last of its kind in Cal­gary be­fore flames tore through the home on Satur­day.The his­toric prop­erty is now a pile of rub­ble as in­ves­ti­ga­tors work to de­ter­mine what caused the blaze. But Coun. Druh Far­rell has asked the city to launch its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into “whether or not all the steps were taken” to pro­tect the his­toric home from “breaches.”“Not only is the build­ing gone but, fight­ing a fire, we’ve en­dan­gered the safety of fire­fight­ers and the pub­lic,” Far­rell said. “And so it’s the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the build­ing owner to en­sure the se­cu­rity of the build­ing, and ob­vi­ously that wasn’t done.”The build­ing was pur­chased by the Cal­gary Mu­nic­i­pal Land Corp. two years ago, which had pro­posed restor­ing the Enoch House as part of the East Vil­lage and Rivers District re­vi­tal­iza­tion project to the tune of $3 mil­lion.Michael Brown, pres­i­dent and CEO of CMLC, said the cor­po­ra­tion ran weekly checks on the prop­erty for safety and struc­tural con­cerns. But Far­rell said there should have been more fre­quent vis­its to the home due to its lo­ca­tion and state of dis­re­pair.Brown said, in hind­sight, there could have been “more sub­stan­tial fenc­ing” around the prop­erty.But he also said in­creased se­cu­rity mea­sures would have come at a cost to the city and putting up a large fence could have caused haz­ards to emer­gency crews need­ing ac­cess to the build­ing.“What you’re do­ing is ac­tu­ally cre­at­ing a sce­nario where the fire de­part­ment or po­lice can’t get to the build­ing safely, so it’s a bit of a bal­anc­ing act when it comes to mak­ing the build­ing safe,” Brown said.As for why a re­vi­tal­iza­tion plan never moved for­ward, Brown said the CMLC’s most re­cent pro­posal was not be sup­ported by “some mem­bers of coun­cil,” but de­clined to iden­tify them.“I’m very dis­ap­pointed in the fact that I was not able . . . to fig­ure out this project and I never re­al­ized time would be com­ing to an end for it,” Brown said.With ac­cess to a $150-mil­lion re­vi­tal­iza­tion levy and stew­ard­ship by a city-owned cor­po­ra­tion, Far­rell is ques­tion­ing why a his­toric site “with ev­ery­thing go­ing for it” was put on ice by the cor­po­ra­tion.Brown said se­cur­ing re­quired fund­ing for the project came down to com­pet­ing re­sources in the CMLC port­fo­lio.Coun. Evan Wool­ley also has con­cerns around Enoch House’s stalled re­vi­tal­iza­tion, say­ing he will raise ques­tions to coun­cil on Mon­day about why “the name­sake of this neigh­bour­hood” was fated to “de­mo­li­tion by ne­glect.”“I am aware that the board had ap­proved plans, then I was told that they can­celled plans,” Wool­ley said, call­ing the Enoch House fire “to­tally avoid­able.”“I want to get to the bot­tom of what ex­actly hap­pened and why.”Josh Trap­tow, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cal­gary Her­itage Au­thor­ity, said many in the city’s her­itage com­mu­nity could see the writ­ing on the walls of the Enoch Sales house.“Ev­ery­one in the her­itage com­mu­nity ba­si­cally said ‘Enoch Sales is go­ing to burn down some day,’ and that’s what we saw,” Trap­tow said.“And it was very un­for­tu­nate, but I’m hope­ful that this sit­u­a­tion will be a learn­ing (mo­ment) for the city ... that we need to take bet­ter care of our her­itage.”No one was in­jured when the his­toric home in the 300 block of 12 Av­enue S.E. caught fire some­time around about 7 a.m. on Satur­day. Half a dozen emer­gency ve­hi­cles and a long plume of smoke could be seen along Macleod Trail as crews worked to knock down the blaze, and later knocked down parts of the build­ing.Trap­tow called the Sales home “the most prom­i­nent build­ing” in the his­tor­i­cal in­ven­tory.Of the other ap­prox­i­mately 650 his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant build­ings in Cal­gary, Trapow said none are at more risk of di­lap­i­da­tion than the In­gle­wood Brew­ery build­ing.“That’s an­other very large site that has had dis­cus­sions around it for the last eight, nine, 10 years,” he said, adding the area around the brew­ery has the city’s “largest amount of sand­stone out­side of Stephen Av­enue.”“I don’t know if fire nec­es­sar­ily (is a risk), but def­i­nitely the de­mo­li­tion by ne­glect of the In­gle­wood brew­ery is a con­cern.”He said a nearly decade-old his­tor­i­cal as­sess­ment by the prov­ince was never re­leased, and Trap­tow lamented the area’s po­ten­tial as a vi­brant “brew­ery district.”

Cal­gary fire­fight­ers fight a two-alarm blaze at the Enoch Sales his­toric home in Vic­to­ria Park on Satur­day.

The re­mains of the home on Sun­day.

© PressReader. All rights reserved.