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Your Voice: How can a heritage building just be gutted then left for dead?

All letters to the editor published by KelownaNow reflect only the opinions of the readers who submit them, and not necessarily those of KelownaNow or its staff. Letters can be submitted to

The following letter is a response to this Your Voice posted last week.

The “Daily Courier” building at 1580 Water St. was constructed between 1908 and 1939 (with additions and a second floor). It is listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places and on Kelowna Heritage Register indicating it has (had) significance in terms of heritage and was worthy of protection. This was a key and important heritage building in downtown Kelowna. The new owner tore down the building in January 2021, leaving only the brick façade held up by steel scaffolding. The windows and doors were removed.

<who>Photo Credit: Canada's Historic Places

The plan was to build a large building behind the façade. A large crane was brought in 2021, a hole was excavated and a foundation was poured. Construction then stopped. The site has been left as an eyesore in the downtown since January 2021. The crane was finally removed in April 2023 as the original project is not going ahead because of challenges to the liquor licencing process. The façade with the steel scaffolding is all that is left of the historic building.

The Head of Planning for the City of Kelowna, Ryan Smith recently said “something will happen there.” (Plans for the downtown wine centre in Kelowna were scrapped in March). They just don’t know what. This suggests that there are no current plans for the site and the city is left with this steel scaffolding supported brick façade.

<who>Photo Credit: Susan Ames

In the mining industry, a bond is put up before any mining activities are initiated to cover the cost of rehabilitating a site if the owner “walks” part way through the project or doesn’t complete the rehabilitation. This bond is sufficient for a government agency to dismantle the mine and rehabilitate the site properly.

The developer who tore down the building may or may not come back. What if the developer went bankrupt? Who would pay to re-build the site and put a building on it? Would this eyesore remain for years until a new investor came along and came up with a new plan? Would the brick façade last that long?

All municipalities in British Columbia should have a policy stating that a developer must post a bond so that cities aren’t left with half constructed buildings and no one to complete them.

What do others think?

Susan Ames
Kelowna, BC

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