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This article was published 31/10/2011 (2066 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The sole remaining home on the east side of Balmoral Street south of Broadway has been spared from the wrecking ball, at least for the short term.
City council's downtown and heritage committee voted unanimously Monday to halt an attempt by Great-West Life Assurance to demolish William Milner House, a 102-year-old Dutch Colonial-style home, to make room for more surface parking at the insurance company's downtown campus.
Great-West Life sought to remove the heritage designation from the property on Balmoral Street at Mostyn Place, which the company has owned since 1991, when the last member of the Milner family died. Other homes on the block have been demolished by Great-West Life since the 1950s to make way for surface parking and a strip of green space.
Councillors Justin Swandel (St. Norbert), Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge), Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood) and Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) voted against delisting the property, primarily because Great-West Life did not present a redevelopment plan.
Gerbasi used the term "demolition by neglect" to describe the actions of Great-West, though Swandel qualified her comment by suggesting the City of Winnipeg and the community at large bear some responsibility for that neglect and must be proactive in suggesting viable means to preserve the property.
Havixbeck also suggested the land could be sold to another developer -- a prospect that does not interest Great-West Life.
Chuck Chappell, the company's legal counsel, argued there is no economically viable use for the structure, which he said requires up to $500,000 in repairs. Attempts to move the house between 2003 and 2006 also proved not to be viable, he added.
"We would like to clean up the situation," he said. "We've tried to do everything we can. We're at our wit's end."
The property would generate more property-tax revenue for the city if it is rezoned to allow parking, Chappell said. Five other Dutch Colonial-style homes still stand in Winnipeg, he added.
Heritage Winnipeg director Cindy Tugwell, however, said developers are interested in the home if Great-West Life would be willing to part with it.
Brian Grant, housing co-ordinator for the West Broadway Development Corp., said grants could be provided to help upgrade the house's electrical and plumbing work.
"When you think of the number of homes Great-West Life has knocked down since the 1950s, you sort of wonder how this house lasted so long," Grant said.
West Broadway resident John Schwandt said the demolition request is "just plain rude" given the large size of Great-West Life's existing parking lot, which has approximately 750 stalls.
Swandel surmised that lot would be an ideal location to build a parkade with commercial or residential components. But even though he voted to deny Great-West Life's request to demolish Milner House, he said he might support such a move in the future if no proposals for the property come forward.
Great-West Life is slated to return to city hall this morning to appeal an order to either remove the boarding it's placed on Milner House or obtain a permit to board up the home.
In a letter to the city, the company argues the building poses no danger to the public.