Kelowna heritage home will be preserved as a burned out shell | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna heritage home will be preserved as a burned out shell

The remains of the Fleming house in Kelowna, July 5, 2018.
December 04, 2018 - 11:00 AM

KELOWNA - One of the oldest surviving houses in Kelowna was narrowly saved yesterday when city council voted 5-4 to spend about $29,000 to put a temporary roof over the fire damaged Fleming House.

The dissenters, led by Coun. Luke Stack, would rather have the building demolished.

“It seems like good money after bad,” Stack said. “To me, I see this structure as essentially lost. The Grist Mill has particular value but it (Fleming House) is going to sit out there as a burned out structure for many years and it’s an eyesore and it’s a risk.”

The Fleming House, a dairy barn and Grist Mill, were relocated in 2002 to a heritage park on the south side Dilworth Drive beside Mill Creek and the Rail Trail. The Grist Mill, built in 1871, is the oldest commercial structure in Kelowna. The Fleming House predates the mill, city project architect Paul Reyes told council yesterday, Dec. 3.

Two calls for proposals to “repurpose” the buildings failed to get any takers.

On July 2, 2018 the house was heavily damaged by fire.

The city hired a contractor to clean up the site and restore it as best as could be done for $71,000 from a reserve fund. Work stopped when lead paint and asbestos were discovered, both of which are considered a health risk. In the end, the contract was terminated after the harmful materials were removed and the house was bordered up.

The Central Okanagan Heritage Society offered to put on a temporary roof, to protect the house from water damage, at an estimated cost of about $29,000 that was unspent from the original contact.

Council was asked to approve the funding yesterday.

Coun. Gail Given argued there is still a chance to have a private investor come in and restore the building because it’s next to the Okanagan Rail Trail. Stack and others felt it was pointless to spend any more money on the building, which is uninsurable.

Stack was joined by Mayor Colin Basran and councillors Charlie Hodge and Loyal Wooldridge in voting against spending the money.

Robert Parlane, the city’s Parks and Building planning manager, told there is no estimate on what it would cost to restore the house, since the degree of restoration could vary from simple preservation to making it habitable. But, he did agree, it would likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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