The museum still wants it, and council will pay to move it, but the viability of the little building at 184 First Avenue in Qualicum Beach is being questioned.
Not on the agenda, Mayor Teunis Westbroek brought up the relocation of the accessory building from a property where council has approved four new residential units.
He proposed awarding the contract to move the building to Belton Brothers Structural Moving for $5,400.
“I’m quite surprised that this motion would come out of nowhere,” said Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer, adding that he believed council had rejected the idea, “and now this is dropped in front of us without any notice.”
He said professional movers had said it was impossible to move the old two-storey structure which had been built as a secondary residence when the woman of the house got tuberculosis.
Westbroek said council had rejected the first option as too expensive at $10,000, but staff had since found a cheaper company who said it was possible to move it. He added that timing was of the essence since the property owner was almost ready to start construction and needed the space.
Council had initially arranged for the museum to commemorate the main house and accessory building with photographs, but started looking into moving the smaller building when Qualicum Beach Museum and Historical Society President Wendy Maurer suggested they could make use of it.
“The museum would still definitely like the house,” Maurer confirmed recently, “but the big caveat is, it needs to be in suitable condition to move,” she said adding that when the main house on the property was demolished “a significant colony of carpenter ants was discovered.”
She said they have been in regular contact with the town and property owner and the society board has voted to accept the house as long as the town covers the moving expenses and looks after legalities like a required setback variance.
“That could be an interesting discussion because we’ll have to have some flexibility on setbacks, which hasn’t always been well received here,” said Westbroek of council’s recent denial of setback variance requests based on not wanting to set bad precedent.
Director of Planning Luke Sales said the building would be placed in the desired location, at the back, to the left of the gazebo as you walk through the gates, but it would not be put on a foundation until the setback is resolved.
A member of the gallery saying he was a former director on the museum society board, spoke at the end of the meeting, calling the building “derelict and vermin infested,” and questioned the costs, viability of moving and value of the building, pointing out it isn’t technically a heritage building.
He also suggested the town was missing a great opportunity for a bigger vision of the area around the museum and train station which could become a heritage square of some sort.
Council awarded the contract to Belton Brothers with Luchtmeijer voting against.