Maple Ridge rolls out draft heritage plan

Hammond Cafe and Rooms, with owner ‘Pop’ Fournier (left), Mr. Harris, Jeanine Fournier Franklin, Dot May and an unknown man in 1936.  - Maple Ridge Museum
Hammond Cafe and Rooms, with owner ‘Pop’ Fournier (left), Mr. Harris, Jeanine Fournier Franklin, Dot May and an unknown man in 1936.
— image credit: Maple Ridge Museum

What to do with a charming old relic of a building that dates back two centuries, that’s on its last legs and isn’t worth fixing?

Maybe you bulldoze it into the ground and forget about it.

Maybe you restore to its past glory, and in return get some property tax breaks from the district.

Maybe it can be moved to a heritage location, where the past can be preserved.

It’s hoped some answers can be found in a new heritage plan being created by the District of Maple Ridge.

A draft version rolls out to an open house Thursday, 4:30 p.m. After the public gives input, the final version goes to council in the fall.

Currently, only buildings that are designated heritage sites can be banned from demolition. That’s an extensive and expensive process, unavailable to most and which leaves any other heritage building either classified as a heritage resource, or not even classified at all.

“Sometimes, all you can do is document them and then kiss them goodbye,” said former Maple Ridge councillor Craig Speirs, now chair of the community heritage commission.

In the case of the old cold storage building on Dewdney Trunk Road and 256th Street, a structure which spanned two centuries, there wasn’t even a chance to take photos or record the building before it was torn down earlier this year.

“It’s gone now, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Speirs said the same fate likely awaits the old Sampo Hall, just across the street. The hall is slowly deteriorating and likely can’t be saved.

The open house at district hall is one of the last venues to comment after word about the rewrite was circulated on social media and at community events.

The plan looks at the financial measures available to encourage building preservation and tries to improve upon them, Speirs said. There also needs to be way to identify heritage buildings when demolition applications come to the district’s front counter.

Response so far has yielded 155 comments, a good number, Speirs said.

He’d like the heritage plan to mirror the official community plan, the master document for Maple Ridge, or for the heritage plan to become incorporated into the OCP.

“We hoping that this dovetail with the OCP and really give us a road map going forward.”

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