Wednesday November 26, 2014

architectural past ignored


Dear Editor

As one who is fully involved in the history societies of our communities, and committed to working for the preservation of our architectural past, I am mystified that we have such little regard for our built history and culture. But perhaps it explains how we were able to allow the demolition of our magnificent old post office and Royal Bank buildings, and many other historic buildings in the downtown core. This mind set has remained remarkably constant over the decades.

On April 13, it was reported that the Boys and Girls Club was planning to demolish its building on 104th street and had asked the City of North Battleford to cover the costs (about $7,500) of removing the debris and filling and levelling the site. The City declined and advised it would try to find other means to assist the club including moving the building. The issue was cost. The point is that there was absolutely no discussion on the historic and cultural value of a building that was constructed in 1904.

At one point this building housed North Battleford’s council chambers — the seat of city government. The matter of preserving this 108-year-old building for its historic and cultural value was not the problem. But this, in fact, is the problem.

This in no way detracts from the fact that the Boys and Girls Club is a wonderful organization that accomplishes a huge amount of good for our young people.

Similarly, the fire that consumed the Jesus is Alive building a few weeks ago generated a great deal of discussion on who should pay for the clean up, deadlines and so forth. But no one lamented the fact that the this was a historic building constructed in 1912, had an extraordinary history and was an important part of our city’s business and commerce. There is no evidence that losing a part of our built history was a problem for anyone. That’s the problem.

Richard W. Hiebert


Battlefords Heritage Society



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