Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A summary demolition

EPC just approved the demolition of the Coronation/Shanghai Restaurant building, provided some kind of credible plan for a geriatric ward can be put in place. A minor setback for the Chinatown Development Corporation.

This decision was made because the historic and important building was "falling apart," yet there is still no engineer's report to validate this claim. It is based simply on what an architect who is hired by the CDC said, and on the sentiments of a pair of philistine Councillors from the suburban Northeast.

For others, demolishing old buildings is not such an easy process. The Church of the Open Door, a congregation that gathers in a bunker-like building at the corner of Euclid and Hallet St. in North Point Douglas, recently purchased a house next to their property, at 123 Euclid Avenue. Built in 1889, the house is a fine example the modest Second Empire style that was popular with Winnipeg house builders in the 1880s.

Like the Coronation Building, 123 Euclid is on the City of Winnipeg's Historical Building Inventory. So when the Church of the Open Door asked to demolish the house, the City hired an engineering firm to see if the house was structurally viable (which, in the engineer's opinion, it was).

It was a costly and detailed process; the City could have just asked someone from the church if they thought the structure of the house was good, or they could have gotten Coun. Russ Wyatt to do a walk-past. But that did not happen, because it would have been a failure of the Property, Planning and Development Department to practice due diligence. Why is it a different story in Chinatown?

Related: One Man Committee - "Goodbye Shanghai; Whither Chinatown?"