Kelowna News

Legacy condos were built with history in mind

Image Credit: City of Kelowna Heritage Register

KELOWNA - This week is not the first time the Legacy condominiums have made headlines.

The now roofless building at 770 Rutland Road was initially built to accompany one of the city's most historically significant residences. But Tuesday's devastating fire ignited by a patio barbeque made history many will want to forget.

At the heart of the Legacy complex, completed back in 2007, is the 90-year-old Rutland Elementary Schoolhouse retrofitted as eight heritage condos.

The brick schoolhouse was built in 1913 and for many years was the heart of the Rutland community. In addition to renovating the school building, developer R&B Construction designed townhomes and two other condo buildings inspired by the school's victorian architecture, including craftsmen shake-style siding.

The four storey 52 unit condo now emptied of its residents is one of those buildings. To the north side of the retrofitted schoolhouse is another the four storey 62 unit condo – whose residents were also drawn out from their apartments Tuesday afternoon to witness the fire.

While R&B Construction manager Bal Poonian initially envisioned the Legacy as a unique landmark for the city's heritage, he now feels devasted.

"It's quite heartbreaking to see what's happened with the fire there... It's very very unforturnate about the building," he says. Though he and his partner Ruby Poonian no longer have vested financial interests in the complex, now in the hands of a strata company, they met with building residents yesterday at the Salvation Army Church meeting for emergency services.

"The building will definitely be rebuilt," he says, though not for at least another year.

"It's not going to be a quick one."

But there's a silver lining to the tragedy, Poonian says.

Tuesday's fire has put balcony barbeque bylaws in the spotlight for strata companies and other housing projects in the city. 

"They will look at this thing in a different set of eyes," he says.

While Kelowna fire chief Jeff Carlisle stated Tuesday they discourage the use of propane barbeques on apartment balconies, they are particularly interested in seeing better fire stopping features in the city's buildings. For instance, having a full spinkler system and life safety features extended to the windows, balconies, attics and rooves.

That might just be the trick to prevent future fire tragedies and ensure Kelowna's apartment buildings stand the test of time. 

To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at or call (250) 718-0428.

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