June 13th, 2024

Council denies application to demo Bentley Block

By Tim Kalinowski on September 9, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

City council has denied the application of the current owners of the Bentley Block to have its Municipal Historic Resource status repealed in order to allow demolition of the historic structure.
Councillor and local historian Belinda Crowson made an impassioned plea to her council colleagues to preserve the Bentley Block during Tuesday’s city council meeting, and not to let it be lost to time like so many other buildings valued by the community have been lost to progress over the decades.
Crowson cited examples of other heritage buildings in the community like the Oliver and Acadia Buildings that were once considered not worth saving, but which history has proven the foresight of those seeking to preserve them for future generations.
But, Crowson said, it was not only about preserving the City’s history, it was also about setting the City on a good foundation for future growth and development.
“These buildings can be saved if the will is there,” Crowson stated. “You want to promote local ownership and local economic development? Save your historic buildings. You want to help business start-ups and help young local entrepreneurs? Save your historic buildings. Anyone who works in the heritage field knows that established businesses can do just fine in a new building. But when you watch a new business; you watch how they gravitate to those historic buildings, and there is a reason for that. Young entrepreneurs, young start-up businesses use historic buildings. You want to support the trades? Save historic buildings, because the work that goes into them will be done by our local trades. You want to keep the young people from the university and college here? Save historic buildings.
“The return on investment from these buildings far outweighs most things we have,” she emphasized. “I am asking my colleagues to be people of courage, people of vision. Because we know saving this building is a matter of money, but we know this building can be saved.”
Coun. Joe Mauro also spoke up in support of Crowson’s position.
“I was just going to say throughout this term a lot of times Coun. Crowson and I have been on opposite ends,” he stated, “but I might say thank you for saying what you did today because I totally believe what you said, and I support what you said, and I totally agree 100 per cent with your comments.”
Coun. Rob Miyashiro, who moved the repealing bylaw to get it on the floor for a vote, also urged his colleagues to defeat the resolution. He reminded councillors the current owners were the ones who had originally asked for the Municipal Historic Resource designation, and had already been accommodated by council in allowing them to destroy a portion of the historic facade in order to complete their renovations.
“It’s a bit mind-boggling to me,” he confessed. “Three years ago they just didn’t even have to go for Municipal Historic Resource (status), and they could have done all this. So I would urge my colleagues to not approve this.”
Council voted 6-2 to deny the repeal of the Municipal Historic Resource status for the Bentley Block and allow the building to be demolished. Councillors Blaine Hyggen and Ryan Parker were in favour. Coun. Jeffrey Carlson was not present for the vote.
The Bentley Block is located at 118 5 Street South and was designated a Municipal Historic Resource in 2019.

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