Heritage status blocks plans for demolition


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An Osborne Village heritage building portrayed as “critically, structurally unsound” could be demolished if city hall grants the owner’s request.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/02/2022 (308 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

An Osborne Village heritage building portrayed as “critically, structurally unsound” could be demolished if city hall grants the owner’s request.

Serhal Consulting, on behalf of the unnamed owner, is asking the city to remove the former home at 36 Roslyn Rd. from the city’s list of historical resources, due to its condition. Its inclusion on that list keeps it from being demolished.

“The building’s foundations are extensively deteriorated beyond reasonable repair; over the life of the building (by a sequence of previous owners), large areas of the basement (were) removed with poorly executed newer installations and replacements. (An engineer’s) report also shows that the original, existing rubble foundation walls are in an advanced state of structural deterioration,” Danny Serhal, principal of Serhal Consulting, writes in the request.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS A consultant for the owner of the John C. Falls house at 36 Roslyn Road in Winnipeg is asking for permission to remove it from the historical buildings and resources list, which protects it against demolition.

A submission from Wolfrom Engineering notes a visual inspection last year concluded exterior foundation walls were in “very poor condition.”

“We expect that (the building) should be slated for demolition within five years,” the submission states.

Known as the John C. Falls House, the brick property was constructed in 1907 and granted heritage status in 1994. The building has many characteristics of the Queen Anne Revival style, which blends “classical and medieval motifs into a picturesque form,” the city report states.

John Claire Falls was its first owner, a longtime vice-president of the Wood-Vallance Co. The property served as a boarding house and nursing home before becoming office space by 1985.

In his letter, Serhal asks the city to allow the demolition of the building to take place in 2023, which would clear the way for a new development.

“The owner has preliminary plans to develop a multi-family building in compliance with the long established Osborne Village Neighbourhood Plan… the redevelopment of this site will offer substantially greater benefit to the neighbourhood by offering a wide range of housing choices in different styles, sizes, and prices,” the letter states.

The consulting firm did not grant an interview request.

A heritage advocate says the city must assess the building’s history and determine the cost of repairing it before councillors vote on whether to remove its historical resource designation.

“Decades ago, it was put on the historical list for a reason… These resources (are treasures) to the city and important to the city’s… history. That’s why we try to protect them from development,” said Cindy Tugwell, executive director of Heritage Winnipeg.

Tugwell said it’s tough to track the condition of each heritage building over time, especially when the properties are repeatedly sold. It’s also difficult to pinpoint who owned each building at the point it began to decline, when those structures do fall into disrepair.

“Heritage designation isn’t a protection for everything. It’s a protection from, really, demolition (for) development. But maintenance (can also be) a huge problem,” said Tugwell.

She said the city should do more to track the condition of heritage buildings to prevent disrepair, possibly with regular inspections. She’d also like to see an expanded grant program for the maintenance of designated heritage structures, to help offset the cost of upkeep.

“There’s got to be some communicative way to (not allow) these buildings to fall apart,” said Tugwell.

The city’s historical buildings and resources committee will consider the request to remove the designation on Feb. 9.


Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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