Beginning at 7 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 1, demonstrators lined the Island Highway in Qualicum Beach, in protest of the demolition order issued by town officials for the historic St. Andrews Lodge.
Anne Skipsey, organizer of the demonstration, said the protests are twofold – citizens don’t feel the council has been transparent about their decision to demolish the lodge and that they are against its demolition.
“We’re going to be here for as long as it takes,” said Skipsey. “It’s got a long history in the community. I think council has received hundreds of emails from community members that are concerned about this loss of our cultural heritage. We don’t understand why council is in such a hurry to demolish our history and our past.”
The building had been run as a lodge since it was built in 1938, until it was purchased by the town in 2018. Since then, there has been either a caretaker on property, or it has been empty.
Qualicum Beach architect Ken Tanguay, who was also present at the protest, said it’s been let go for the past two years, and that the town hasn’t “done anything with it.”
“And we’re not sure if that was the plan, to make it look more derelict so it allowed them to say ‘let’s just tear it down,’” said Tanguay.
He said the building was purchased by the town with the idea to preserve it and include community input. But that the town has skipped proper protocol “in order to follow some agenda that they’ve planned that they’re not telling us.”
Tanguay says the St. Andrews Lodge is “beautiful in it’s simplicity,” and that it has “character up the wazoo.”
In a release, the town indicated that “demolition of the building was a last resort.”
“The town issued an open request for proposals for anyone wishing to repurpose the lodge building, either on or off of the site. The town did not receive any proposals from proponents wishing to relocate it, and only one from a community group wishing to retain it. That viability of that proposal depended on grant funding that would have diverted resources away from other strategic Town initiatives already underway, such as the East Village, turf field, roundabouts, etc.”