WATCH: There is one prominent construction project in Victoria these days. It’s the massive project underway at the Custom House site on Government Street in the Inner Harbour. While work continues there, a group of concerned citizens sent a letter to the city council to remind them of the historic nature of Old Town and the importance of preserving it. Mary Griffin reports.
Developer Aaron Usatch describes the Daniel Webster Boot and Shoe building on Yates Street as a “beautiful building”
“We did a full-scale facade restoration in approximately 2008,” Usatch said.
It’s one of two buildings he owns in Old Town.
“The top part of the building was actually torn down by myself and a master mason,” Usatch said.
He knows the story behind each brick and he believes in the value of maintaining these historic buildings.
“Surrounding us are all buildings that have been converted through the grants that are offered. And they now provide living for families, professionals that have basically revitalized the downtown,” Usatch said.
It’s an idea that will be in a presentation to Victoria city council this week. Former Victoria city councillor Pam Madoff is speaking for a group of citizens who want to keep the heritage of Old Town while under development pressure.
“Making sure it’s vital and vibrant, which it is. It seems to be where people want to be, where they want to go. And I think it’s because of the character that’s been there for all of these years,” Madoff said.
Madoff points to an application to redevelop the Northern Junk site. One proposal kept the two historic buildings but added a large condominium building. The developer withdrew its proposal last year. And the University of Victoria withdrew its proposal for 1316 Broad Street to transform a small heritage building into condos and student housing. But not everyone is concerned, including developer Chris Le Fevre.
“I don’t see any history of heritage renovations or the like that should be a concern to anybody,” Le Fevre said.
He not only builds new projects like the Railyards but he’s restored many of Old Town’s buildings over the past 30 years.
“City elected officials have every ability to control and cherish Old Town,” Le Febre said.
Madoff says that she wants council and the public to recognize the importance of Victoria’s heritage now and into the future.
“We all realize that we are internationally known for the quality of that area. And we’ve managed to maintain that reputation. And I think we should continue to maintain it,” Madoff said.