Opinion

Steveston loses its character

Architecturally, Steveston is changing and the residents don’t like it.

The community is like a weaving, each strand forming a part of the whole weaving and becoming an integral part of it as well, giving it character. Take one strand away and your weaving starts losing its character. This is a case in point with the block on the corner of Moncton Street and No. 1 Road, which is about to be demolished. That impending demolition has a lot of the community very upset.

It’s not so much the fact that we feel we’re losing an old building, it’s the fact that we feel we have little say in the architectural makeup of our community. It just seems to be thrust upon us.

OK, to be fair, while the building isn’t as historic as some in Steveston, it is a “character building” never the less. It is part of the weaving and we like it. We liked and patronized the businesses in it. Now the businesses that were there, are spread all over the Steveston map and it’s a bit of a distance for some to get to them.

Senior residents who know the area, worry about the soil underneath the building, stating that part of that property used to be fishing industrial. They wonder about the toxic chemical makeup of the soil and what will happen when the soil is dug up. What remediation will have to take place if necessary and how long it will take?

We also wonder what will this new building look like. Is it going to be two or three stories in height, ground floor retail and one or two stories of residential above?

And I ask if the developer could put a drawing of what he’s planning to build, in a window of one of the vacant shops, so we of the community can see what it will look like. It’s a good public relations move in my thoughts.

Will there be interruptions to pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic while demolition and construction takes place. Moncton Street and No 1 Road is traffic congested as it is without demolition and constriction adding to it. That intersection badly needs a “Fully operating signal light” NOW!

And a lot of people also wonder what building will be next and wonder that one-day if the Hepworth building will be demolished. That building is got to be one of the most important heritage buildings in the downtown core and is in the city’s heritage inventory. It was built from the Ballast bricks from the tall ships that docked here to take home cargos of salmon back to England. It was lucky to have survived the tragic fire of 1918 that decimated every building south of Moncton to the waterfront, between Number One Road and Third Avenue.

Now this is a privately owned building and if the owner wanted to demolish it, all he’d need is a permit and if he got one then it’s by, by Hepworth. Now I’m in no way saying that there are plans to demolish the Hepworth, but I am saying that it’s not a protected heritage building either.

Will the domino effect take place on Moncton Street take place, one building coming down after another, I don’t know. I do know that one building is being demolished and that a lot of people in the community including myself are sad about it.

Architecturally speaking, I feel as though I am becoming a stranger in my own community.

Gordon Kibble

Richmond

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