Dennis Dodds is caught between a Regina city bylaw on heritage properties, and an old house that he owns but isn’t allowed to tear down.
This week Regina City Council voted to deny Dodds’ request to have the house taken off the Heritage Holding Bylaw list.
Joining Mainstreet on Wednesday, Dodds explained that when he bought the property he bought it for the location on Leopold Crescent to be closer to the downtown area.
His plan always was to tear down the house and build a new one. He said the house kept getting relisted for sale at a lower price because it was in poor condition and had been vacant for several years.
Before making an offer on the house, he said he contacted the City of Regina to ask about the heritage holding bylaw and what it meant.
“The answer we were given was that it doesn’t mean that you cannot demolish a house on this heritage holding list because it’s not a heritage designated property,” Dodds explained.
He was told that there would be a 60 day consideration period for city council to deliberate on issuing a demolition permit.
Thirteen months later, Dodds has been through a lot more than that, and he also knows that in 27 years only two buildings on this list have been denied a demolition permit.
“Leaving the property as it is, is not possible in this case because this house is in an unliveable state. Not my words, somebody else’s words,” Dodds said.
He said he did withdraw his initial demolition permit request when he was approached by Heritage Regina in order to consider options for renovation.
“Seeking heritage status and renovating it involves huge bureaucracy and expense and at the end we would be left with a house that is still a 71-year-old house, a one bedroom house and not suitable to our needs.”
After months of working with engineers, contractors, and designers, Dodds says he’s been through a long process of trying to work out options to save it. He said the biggest issue to arise was when a home inspector who specializes in mold told him that it was the second worst house he had ever seen.
Regina Mayor Michael Fougere explained that in addition to denying Dodds’ request, council has also voted to undertake a review of the property to reconsider it for official heritage designation.
“To determine what is the value of demolishing the building and building new versus keeping the heritage features of the existing building as part of a new build, and that is not known. That is one issue among many others that council wants to find out about, to have a true conversation about what is the heritage value of that property,” Fougere said.
The mayor said it should be a fairly quick process for an external review of the building to determine heritage status. Council will expect a report back from the review to determine the heritage value of the property.
Fougere also noted that the education about the bylaw to hold a property for heritage status does need to be clearer to help property owners understand their rights and responsibilities.
As the homeowner, Dodds can register an objection to the review of heritage status.