The Hope Station House has been granted a one-week stay of demolition.
Christian Ward of the Coalition for the Preservation of the Hope Station House told The Standard that the B.C. Ombudsperson’s Office and District of Hope agreed to halt demolition work as the office investigates allegations against the district.
District CAO John Fortoloczky confirmed the District has agreed to delay further work until March 22.
On March 1, the coalition filed a complaint with the B.C. Ombudsperson against the district, claiming unfair treatment and a lack of transparency when making decisions about the Hope Station House. The Ombudsperson investigates complaints from members of the public about government administrations, employees, programs or services.
The Ombudsperson’s office responded to the coalition four days later, asking for further information. Ward received a phone call from the office to inform him of the week-long demolition stay on Friday, March 12.
“[The stay] was very well-received by the Coalition and is a testament to the huge amount of work we have all put in to saving this historic building,” Ward said.
Ward is the author of a five-page letter detailing 10 complaints against the district council, including claims the council is choosing to demolish the Station House based on inaccurate information, allegedly did not seek funding to restore the building and allegedly did not maintain the building while it was under district ownership.
As of Monday morning, 2,255 people have signed a petition to save the Station House.
“We…believe we have been treated unfairly,” the letter reads. “In making this decision the District of Hope is erasing important local and provincial history, not representing the people that our Coalition represents, and furthermore they are turning their back on the potential economic, financial, environmental and societal gains from renovating and repurposing a heritage building for tourism purposes.”
The coalition sought the following actions from Council:
- An immediate stay of demolition
- An opportunity to discuss their research and ideas with council
- That council works with the province to extend the lease on the land where the Station House currently sits while options are considered.
- That the district abides by the agreement to maintain and operate the Station house for the community’s benefit.
Until the call from the Ombudsperson’s office late last week, workers with Summit Earthworks, Inc. were clearing the building out, removing debris and bits of furniture from the structure. The Station House is fenced off behind yellow construction fencing, and there are signs it is being monitored by security.
On Saturday, March 20, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the coalition is hosting a Save the Station Supporters Walk/Cycle at the District Hall on Third and Wallace Streets. The event will be COVID-safe and organizers ask those who attend to observe COVID regulations such as wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing. Attendees are encouraged to bring signs and noise makers that don’t require mask removal.