City council's downtown and heritage committee has stopped an attempt by Great-West Life Assurance to strip 102-year-old Milner House of its heritage designation.

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This article was published 31/10/2011 (3614 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

City council's downtown and heritage committee has stopped an attempt by Great-West Life Assurance to strip 102-year-old Milner House of its heritage designation.

The Winnipeg insurance company sought to delist the property on Balmoral Street at Mostyn Place to pave the way for demolition and the creation of more surface parking at its downtown campus.

But the downtown and heritage committee voted unanimously to deny the move, primarily because Great-Life presented no redevelopment plan for the site.

Lawyer Chuck Chappell, Great-West's legal counsel, said there is no economically viable use for the structure, which he said requires up to $500,000 in repairs.

As well, attempts to move the house during the last decade fell through, he said.

"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."

Chappell also said the property would generate more property-tax revenue for the city if it is rezoned.

Heritage Winnipeg director Cindy Tugwell, however, said developers are interested in the home and said no demolition should be allowed - especially as Great-West Life has presented no redevelopment proposal for the property.

Brian Grant, housing co-ordinator for the West Broadway Development Corporation, said the property could be occupied and grants could be provided for the work.

He said he'd like Great-West Life to simply sell the house.

"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.

In the end, Couns. Justin Swandel (St. Norbert), Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge), Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood) and Jeff Browaty(North Kildonan) voted against delisting the property.

Gerbasi used the term "demolition by neglect" to decribe the actions of Great-West, which has owned the property since 1991.

Swandel qualified her comment by suggesting the City of Winnipeg and the community bears responsibility for that neglect.