Delta council has agreed to spend big bucks to save a historic barn in East Ladner from the wrecking ball.
Civic politicians voted in favour of a staff recommendation Monday to enter into an agreement with the property owner to acquire and relocate the Harris Barn, currently on a farm in the 5500-block of 64th Street.
The barn will be taken apart and reassembled at Hawthorne Grove Park, also known as the Kirkland House site, on Arthur Drive. The property contains the restored Kirkland House maintained by the Kirkland House Foundation.
"We simply can't preserve all of our history, the conditions have to be right. We just happen to have a situation where the conditions are right," said parks, recreation and culture director Ken Kuntz. "It's just simply too expensive for the municipality to preserve every building and not have a purpose or function for that."
The 5,000-square-foot barn, constructed in 1900 and relocated in 1940 to its current home, is recognized "as one of Delta's historical agricultural assets." The owner applied to tear it down in order to construct a new home on the site.
The owner, Fujiko Kinjo, agreed to sell the barn, provided it's removed from her property by the end of June. In exchange, Kinjo will receive 80 sheets of plywood, water service to her property and will see the building permit fees for her new home waived. Kuntz said that all adds up to less than $8,500.
The Kirkland House Foundation has entered into an
agreement with Delta to undertake interior modifications and improvements to the relocated barn, including creating an interactive agricultural display on the lower floor and a public assembly space on the upper floor.
Council agreed to award a contract of $362,200 to Macdonald & Lawrence Timber Framing Ltd. to relocate the structure. Other expenses for Delta include providing the Kirkland House Foundation $75,000 toward the conversion of the barn for public uses.
A letter to council from the foundation's Colin Campbell and Matt Rogers notes they can get significant donations and community volunteers, as was the case in the restoration of the Kirkland House residence.
"Delta is rapidly losing its historical agricultural assets. The Harris Barn is considered in very good shape and would be a facility worth preserving. The Hawthorne Grove Park Master Plan envisioned future agricultural buildings as an enhancement to the Kirkland House restoration. If a partnership could be achieved, this barn would offer the community a location to experience the agricultural history of our community while providing a facility to host events of a larger nature in a weather protected environment," they wrote.
A report to council notes the barn is considered of high heritage value, scoring 98 out of 100 in the 1998 Heritage Inventory Evaluation.
Council approved the expenditure of up to $600,000 for the project, funding which isn't currently in Delta's financial plan but will be drawn from reserves.
The loss of heritage buildings in Delta has been an issue of late. It was noted during a recent agricultural advisory committee discussion about the Harris Barn that Delta's heritage incentives apply mainly to urban structures, while the community's rural past is fast disappearing.
Saying the Harris Barn is in great condition, Coun. Ian Paton noted Monday volunteers would help move it piece-by-piece.
Meanwhile, council also agreed to have municipal sewer service extended to Hawthorne Grove Park, which will be another $92,000 expense.
The Kirkland House is currently serviced by an onsite sewage treatment system and raised bed septic field. Metro Vancouver's approval is required.
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