Mr. L. Hebert
Councilor at Large, City of Thunder Bay,
I am writing to you as you are the council representative on the Heritage Advisory Committee. I would like to bring the following to your attention.
My daily walk around the city today brought me to the Lyceum building. Its located across Cumberland Street from the Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel.
The above article gives a little history to this building. As you can see, it has a rich and glorious past. Its future, if it has one, looks to be less glorious. This building is on the city’s non-designated heritage building list.
I fear the building is one step away from demolition. I looked through the window and noticed water dripping from the upper floors. Not a little water mind you. It was like it was raining inside the building. Either a water line is broken, which seems unlikely, or the roof leaks. Water making its way down 2.5 storeys from the roof does not bode well for the future of this building.
Its been empty for years now. If the roof leaks when it rains and leaks when the snow melts, and has been doing that for years, then rot and mould are surely everywhere. A deadly but not uncommon combination in this city.
Graham’s City Livery, which was located on Cooke Street, only a block from the Lyceum was torn down for precisely those reasons back in 2008. Mold, rot and neglect. It was also on the non-designated historical building list. What’s the list for? It does not appear to be saving any buildings.
According to the Heritage Registry website, Properties that appear on the Heritage Registry which have not undergone formal designation are provided with interim protection. The Heritage Advisory Committee and City Council have recognized these sites to be of historical interest. Owners of these properties are required to give City Council sixty (60) days notice of their intention to demolish. This allows time for Council to decide whether to begin the designation process, which provides properties with permanent protection.
The problem with this system is that once a building’s insides are rotted and infected with mold, the costs of saving the building become too prohibitive. Compound this with possible asbestos issues and, well, you can see the problem. An older building can quickly become a financial liability to its owner. All buildings that are on the Non-Designated Heritage Property are at risk if the owners neglect them.
I do not want the Lyceum building to end up being torn down because the owner is negligent. Although these historic buildings are not owned by the city, they are part of the history of the city and therefore deserve some respect. Some TLC. There needs to be legislation requiring building owners to perform minimum levels of maintenance for old buildings and it needs to be enforced. Inside maintenance as well as outside. Graham City Livery looked fine on the outside all the while rotting away on the inside. The city needs to inspect these buildings and ensure the work is done. Time is not on our side here.
Thunder Bay, a city rich in history, buildings, archaeology and cultural heritage, is committed to preserving and promoting our past. Heritage Resources add value, quality and diversity to our daily lives and community, and need to be protected for the future. As the city matures, our past shall not be lost to insensitive renovation or demolition, but retained as assets adding unique and irreplaceable value to our future.
The above is taken directly from the City of Thunder Bay’s Heritage Properties website. The words “need to be protected for the future” and “shall not be lost to insensitive renovation and demolition” seem to have a hollow ring to them. Just talk. The city is good at talk. Forming committees and talking.
Manitoba Pool 2, is likely already lost due to neglect. The Lyceum building may be already beyond rescue. What other old buildings are busy rotting away? What will be left of our city’s urban history?
You might be satisfied with the Citizen’s Satisfactory Survey result of 87% of the people rating the Quality of Life in the city Good to Very Good. High fives and a round of atta’boys and girls for everyone. The survey also shows 79% of the people rate the Quality of Life in the city to be Very Poor to Good. Not so great.
Old buildings contribute to a city’s Quality of Life rating. You say that on your own website. We cannot afford to lose one more old building in this city. We just can’t.
Reply received from L. Hebert
Date: Mon, Apr 11, 2011 at 8:41 AM
Subject: Re: Lyceum Good-byeceum
Bllaw (sic) enforcement is looking into this and tried to deal with it a while back. The current owner lives in California and the previous owner is the person who let it deteriorate. If I was in a meeing (sic) then there must be some type of arrangement between businesses. As you stated it is basically abandoned.