It’s looking like a prayer might be the only thing that saves a prominent heritage house in South Delta from the wrecking ball.
After many months of trying, the municipality hasn’t found any takers for the Kittson residence at 9230 Ladner Trunk Rd.
A greenhouse operator purchased the property and is building a large-scale operation, but has agreed to hold off demolishing the vacant yellow house pending efforts to relocate it. Because the cost to move and restore the house is estimated in the hundreds of thousands, it’s been no easy task, prompting Coun. Ian Paton to recently remark that “the Kittson house might not be long for this world.”
Noting there has been some interest, Coun. Jeannie Kanakos, chair of Delta’s Heritage Advisory Commission, told the Optimist her group is still working hard, looking for individuals willing to save the house.
“The Kittson house needs an angel. We’re still looking for one to rescue it. The key challenge is finding a parcel it can be moved to,” she said.
Kanakos said she and a company specializing in moving houses inspected the structure and found it to be in relatively good condition with many valuable heritage features.
The municipality has already received a demolition application for the house and a barn on the property, but Kanakos noted the owner has been cooperative with Delta’s efforts.
Delta pioneer Robert Kittson built a barn at the site in 1895 and the house in 1907. Kittson ran a mixed farming operation and was also active in the community, serving on the Delta school board and council, including as reeve in 1904 and 1905.
The house is listed as having a high heritage value and is on Delta’s heritage inventory, but not on a heritage registry that provides greater protection.
The barn is now gone and the house, seen by thousands of passing motorists daily, could soon follow if someone doesn’t step forward, although Kanakos said the owner hasn’t set a hard deadline yet.
“The commission hasn’t given up and in the new year we’re going to be talking to a few people. It’s an historic landmark for Delta and indeed the whole of the Lower Mainland. People often use it as a marker,” she said. “It’s a significant piece of our culture and heritage.”
The heritage commission is putting the final touches on a new strategy that will be presented to Delta council early in 2014. The last heritage strategy took place in 1997, but it was only a five-year plan.
The commission retained heritage consultant Donald Luxton to help formulate the plan. He told the commission the new strategy provides an opportunity to look at what Delta residents value and what they want to conserve.
A key to the strategy is to integrate heritage policy recommendations with broader municipal policy, specifically the Official Community Plan.
“What the strategy is recommending is a more holistic approach to heritage that includes culture, built heritage and aspects of our environmental heritage which are so precious to us all,” said Kanakos.