It is unlikely you will find anyone on Kimberley City Council who doesn’t agree that the former Bavarian Esso building on Wallinger Avenue is an eyesore.
Located right across from the east entrance to the Platzl, the vacant building became property of the City of Kimberley last spring when Council voted to swap land with the owner for a lot elsewhere in the city, so that the City could deal with the building. However, there was no money put in the budget this year for the building’s demolition.
At a special meeting of Council on October 6, Council voted three to two to proceed with tearing down the building this year. Councillors Darryl Oakley and Bev Middlebrook were unable to attend the meeting.
The motion read “that the City hire Rainbow International Restoration of the Kootenays and DST Consulting Engineers to proceed with abatement and monitoring of the hazardous materials for 170 Wallinger Ave. for an amount not to exceed $6,000 taken from the Kimberley Reserve Fund, and that the City hire a contractor to demolish the building at 170 Wallinger Ave not to exceed the amount of $54,500 to be taken from the Kimberley Reserve Fund.”
The hazardous material is asbestos siding, says Mayor Ron McRae. McRae says that money from land sales goes into the reserve fund and it was hoped to have all the lots on the former pool property in Chapman Camp sold to pay for the demolition.
Unfortunately, only one lot has sold. However, Council voted to go ahead anyway.
“There is no way we can leave that building standing,” McRae said. “It’s an eyesore and a liability. There are enough funds in the reserve fund to bring it down.”
The other advantage to going ahead now, McRae says is that one contractor will be used to bring down the Esso building and two other buildings that need to come down for the flume project. Those buildings ar the former Flowers Galore building on Wallinger at the Mark Creek Bridge and a house just past the now closed bridge on Mark Street.
“It’s a package deal,” McRae said. “One offs would cost more. We can bundle the three together. The timing is good.”
McRae says there have been instances of kids breaking into the building and for liability reasons the building would have to be boarded up.
“That’s the last thing we want sitting on a street corner — a boarded up building.”
Voting against the motion were Councillors Albert Hoglund (running for another Council term) and Don McCormick (running for Mayor).
McCormick says he was in favour of the land swap last spring and voted for it.
“I was in support of the land swap so we could get control of an eyesore. But we agreed at the time that we didn’t want taxpayers’ money used for the demolition. The money was supposed to come from the sale of the lots. We’ve only sold one lot so we’re spending money we don’t’ have. That’s exactly what we have to stop doing.”
McCormick also questions how much of a better deal the city is getting by bundling the jobs together.
“Unless we’re getting a $60,000 better deal, we’re still spending money we don’t have. And how much of a better deal are we really getting?”
McCormick says to put it in perspective, with an average per property tax of $3000 you’d need 30 new taxpayers to cover $60,000.
The land is currently zoned specifically for a service station and would require environmental remediation for any other commercial use. However, the zoning would allow a park. The plan now, McRae says, is to take the building down, surface the lot and use it for parking until Council decides what to do with it.
The demolition should begin by the end of October, McRae said.