A landmark Colwood building on Esquimalt Lagoon has been torn down and the city is looking into buying the land for a park.
The 1930s-era building beside the bridge leading to the spit has sat unused since 2006 and is no longer needed by the department of national defence, which owns it.
DND say the reason the building had to be demolished is because it is in poor condition and is no longer of any use. The cost to repair the building is too much to justify restoring it, as opposed to the cost of tearing it down. The land the building is on is also eroding, making the building a liability, said Cpt. Jenn Jackson.
“It’s in poor condition, it’s expensive to repair,” she said.
The foundation for the building are being left, said Colwood CAO Chris Pease, because the ground could be destabilized if it is removed. Any underground tanks will also be removed or filled.
The building was constructed in 1938, after a previous building burnt down. The location was home to The Dugout pub at one point. DND took over the building in 1942 and used it as a naval college. In the 1960s it was used as married quarters and later it was used by the 4 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group and finally as a fleet maintenance facility from 1993 to 2006.
Jack Bates, a local military historian, laments that the building was allowed to deteriorate to the point where it could not be feasibly saved. Bates said the building was constructed by a member of the Buxton family, a well known name in Victoria military history.
“Unfortunately what happens is they let them sit for so long that they become neglected to a point where there value is decreased,” Bates said. “They should have thought of that when they emptied it out. … That’s quite a landmark building, you can see it from around Macaulay Point.”
With the building down, the City of Colwood has been talking to the DND in hopes of buying the land it sits on.
“What we want to do is make the whole spit a part of a larger park, and this is the last bit that we would like to get a hold of,” Pease said. “So it’s pretty exciting from our perspective.”
DND will likely ask for the assessed value of the property, but Pease is hoping that because the land will go to public use, and has a limited lifespan due to erosion, a deal may be sorted out.