Thursday, February 21, 2008

Where does it end?

Local blog Anybody Want a Peanut had an excellent post on the increasingly ridiculous Upper Fort Garry circus, as St. Boniface Councillor Dan Vandal has now gotten in on the act.

Coun. Vandal explains his weighing in on opposing an apartment block being built near the Upper Fort Garry footprint on his website:
"I was always uncomfortable with building a condominium near these historically important lands."

If condominia going up near historically important land makes Vandal uncomfortable, then watching the hulking 55+ condo (shown above) go up on Avenue Tache in 2006 must have been positively torturous. The site is at ground zero of Francophone and Roman Catholic history in Western Canada, wedged hard between the second oldest dwelling in modern-day Winnipeg, the Grey Nuns Convent, and the ruins of the St. Boniface Bascilica, (which happens to host the resting place of many prominent St. Bonifacians, including Mr. Louis Riel).

Of course, Vandal was not councillor during the construction of that building, and the wicked pro-business Katz sycophant Franco Magnifico ruled St. Boniface then. I don't know, however, who was councillor when it was approved, Vandal or Magnifico, but I do know that Mr. Don't-even-build-near-historical-sites was himself still living a few blocks away.

Funny, I don't remember him expressing discomfort caused by a condo project that would impose on the most historical land in the former city he represents--in his own backyard--then. Perhaps it was because opposing the Tache condos was not an embarrassing cause-celebre.


As the owner of a 126 year-old house, I find it hard to feel any sympathy for Ben Haber, the owner of the Christian Scientist church at River and Nassau Street, who purchased the church building several years ago, only to discover now that developing it would involve the expensive task of removing mold. Maintaining old buildings is costly. Renovating them is more costly still. It is only dilligent to have an understanding of the property you are purchasing.

As one local architect noted:
"The owners came to [our firm] a few years ago when they wanted to turn it into million dollar condos. They wanted... some flashy renderings of the suites and work out the floor plans, but they would only offer us a couple thousand dollars for months of work. We said no thanks."

It is clear that the hapless Mr. Haber was ill-prepared to own such a significant structure (and if he cannot afford to remove mold, or pay architects market value for thier services, one can be sure that he won't be able to afford the cost of building anew). The question is, why do we continue to allow incompentent, disinterested, squatter-owners get away with gradually destroying the quality and character of our best neighorhoods?


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