May 16, 2013 - 4:56 PM
At the foot of Kelowna's Dilworth Mountain sits the oldest industrial site of the B.C. Interior. Enclosed behind a seven-foot fence stands the wooden carcass of a mill built in 1871, once used to make flour from grain.
Two other houses of the same period sitting beside the large barn-like structure complete the 142-year-old Brent's Grist Mill heritage site where Dilworth Drive crosses the railroad tracks.
Safety concerns around the building's shaky structure have kept the area closed to the public. Faded graffiti, plastic bottles and overgrown grasses now cover the site. And from shadowy cracks in the wooden structure the scattering of paws can be heard - a sign the building is not entirely abandoned.
But with a bit of capital funding pumped into the site it could take on new life and new significance for Kelowna residents. Councillor Bob Hobson says it's time the City take care of the long neglected heritage site and turn it into a recreational attraction.
“I fear somebody is going to burn them down or interfere with it,” he said. "It will ultimately be a city park."
Mill stones original to the building are kept at the Kelowna Museum, but otherwise no steps have been taken to preserve the heritage site.
"It's under the management of the Central Okanagan Heritage Society, but they haven't been able to push the project forward," Hobson says.
When discussing the city's longterm budget at Monday's council meeting Hobson suggested he would rather prioritize spending for existing recreational sites like Brent's Mill rather than build new big budget projects.
"My vision is to stabilize it and the house, and interpret them as found sites as opposed to spending millions of dollars to restore them," Hobson says. "To do that we have to make the site safe and secure," A future access to the recreation site will be located off Dilworth Drive where it intersects with Mill Creek.
“It has significant heritage and in my view, provincial level significance,“ Hobson says.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at email@example.com or call (250)718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013