Don Cherry’s Sports Grill

Prominent Maple Ridge building to be torn down

Former Don Cherry's pub and reputable restaurant building was destroyed by fire.

At one time, it was the first Don Cherry’s Sports Grill in western Canada, and before that a popular and reputable restaurant off the Haney Bypass.

Now, the building has been ordered demolished, following a Maple Ridge council decision Monday.

“Maybe they should send a picture of Don Cherry’s (to Don Cherry). He’d like to see it taken care of as well,” said Coun. Al Hogarth, as council voted to destroy the building that once held The Gourmet Hideaway Restaurant, and more recently, Don Cherry’s at the bottom of 224th Street.

Once the order is given, the building owner has a month to do the tear down and two weeks to appeal the order.

The property at 11598 – 224th St., is owned by High Class Holdings. The Don Cherry’s bar had been closed before the fire struck.

“This will go a long way to help the neighbourhood,” said Mayor Ernie Daykin.

According to a staff report, a fire on Aug. 30, 2011 gutted the place and no work has been done on the building since.

Council looked at photos of the interior, showing tables and chairs in the same place they were when the fire struck. Gaping holes are in walls, chairs are lined up in a row at the bar, seemingly awaiting reupholstering and new customers, while charred timbers hang from the ceiling.

While the big windows are boarded up with plywood, the building has been entered at least seven times, bylaws director Liz Holitzki told council.

The report notes that electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems have all been either removed or damaged beyond repair. As well, many doors and windows are broken, while 65 per cent of the interior has been damaged by fire or exposure to the elements. Mould is growing inside.

Fire chief Dane Spence listed his own safety concerns after a November 2012 inspection, such as lack of drywall to stop fire spread, an accumulation of combustible junk, and broken glass and sharp objects which could hurt any firefighter entering the building.

“The building is not habitable and I find that these premises are now in such a state of disrepair that a fire starting in them will spread rapidly and endanger life and property.”

Anyone who was in the building when a fire started, was at risk, said the report.

“Firefighters will not be able to enter this structure to safely fight a fire or rescue anyone that might be inside the structure.”

The old building also threatens a new condo building next door that’s almost ready to open, as well as historic Haney House beside it.

Spence concludes that the building should either be repaired or torn down.

Coun. Bob Masse wanted to know why Monday was the first he’d heard of the order and noted that for other properties, there was more communication between the property owner and the district before the demolition order.

But Holitzki explained later that fire and building inspection reports consider the building beyond repair. If the owners believe that the building can be saved, they can make that case during an appeal of the order.

She wasn’t aware of the state of negotiations between the insurance company and owners.

Under the order made under the Community Charter, if the hazardous materials aren’t removed and the building torn down and the material, including foundation,  hauled away and the excavation filled in within 30 days, then the district can do the work and bill the owner’s property taxes.

In the last few years, council has ordered the tear down of Northumberland Court, also in Port Haney on Fraser Street. The old gym just across from what was known as the ghetto was also demolished, as were several old homes on district property on Selkirk Avenue and 226th Street, and a house on Cliff Avenue near the Salvation Army.


‘Gold stars’

Maple Ridge council wants the provincial government to cough up some money and re-open Riverview Hospital as a centre for mental health care and support.

The district is hoping other municipalities feel the same way at the Lower Mainland Local Government Association annual convention in May in Harrison Hot Springs.

The resolution was to be discussed at Tuesday’s council meeting and points out that Riverview has a proven history for such treatment, with much of the infrastructure already in place. It also says that there’s currently a lack of treatment and housing for the mentally ill, which hurts people and puts “severe” financial and social burdens on local communities.

The phased closure of Riverview Hospital was announced in 1990, while the last 40 patients were moved out in 2012.

Another resolution on Tuesday’s agenda calls for the provincial government to make the Office of the Seniors Advocate an independent office, reporting to the entire legislature, rather than report to the Minister of Health. It says that seniors issues affect many areas, such as transportation and income support, not just the Ministry of Health.

Maple Ridge is also asking that Lower Mainland Local Government Association ask the provincial government for money for the B.C. Association of Agricultural Fairs, in order to keep going the 50 agricultural fairs across B.C. Maple Ridge celebrates its Country Fest July 27 and 28.

“These are gold star resolutions,” said Mayor Ernie Daykin.

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