Qualicum Beach councillor Teunis Westbroek talks to protesters fighting to save the St. Andrews Lodge. (Michael Briones photo)

Qualicum Beach councillor Teunis Westbroek talks to protesters fighting to save the St. Andrews Lodge. (Michael Briones photo)

Wrecking ball reprieve for heritage Qualicum building?

Qualicum Beach councillor agrees with quest to save historic St. Andrews Lodge

Residents fighting to save historical St. Andrews Lodge from demolition have gained a strong ally in Qualicum Beach Coun. Teunis Westbroek.

Westbroek showed up at St. Andrews Lodge Tuesday morning to talk to the people, opposing the town’s plan to bring down the heritage structure. He told them he would do his best to try and help save the lodge.

The protest got heated early Tuesday morning as the workers tried to gain access to the waterfront property. Protesters tried to stop the truck.

Westbroek indicated he was able to convince Mayor Brian Wiese to hold back on the demolition work, scheduled to get underway on Wednesday.

“The plan hopefully is that we have a council meeting to look at other options than demolition,” said Westbroek. “My experience as mayor over the last 19 years, working with the volunteer groups has been very positive. And I think this has the making of another very successful enterprise.”

RELATED: Qualicum Beach residents rally to preserve historic St. Andrews Lodge

Westbroek is referring past heritage buildings the town was able to save through collaboration with local groups such as The Old School House, train station and museum. He is hoping the mayor will be able to call a council meeting soon.

“Tomorrow there will be no demolition, he told me that by phone,” said Westbroek.

The work that will be conducted, Westbroek said, will mainly be the removal of hazardous materials like asbestos. The building was built in 1938.

“That has to be done regardless,” said Westbroek. “Whether you demolish the building or whether you use it for another purpose, which I hope will happen. So it’s actually a good thing to let that happen and not to interfere with that because if we were to take it over and renovate it we’d have to remove all that stuff. So you might as well get it done by the professionals. They’re not doing anything else to the building now.”

Town council on Oct. 14 voted in-camera to relocate or demolish the lodge. It was discussed again at council meeting on Oct. 28 and a motion was passed. Then on Nov. 4, council made a decision to take down the structure, which raised the ire of residents pushing for the town to retain it due to its historical significance.

A study conducted by the town showed that keeping the building and renovating it could cost up to $700,000. A consultation survey showed that residents are against preservation if the cost involved to fix it up is significant.

“It could be expensive, yeah, but as we’ve seen with The Old School House and the train station and the museum itself, when people put their mind to it and there’s a lot of enthusiasm over this weekend and I saw a lot of emails from people saying we want to save this and we will support it,” said Westbroek, who believes there will be people who would step up either financially or help with the work.

Westbroek said he agreed with council’s decision not to allow any structures in the waterfront property that the town plans to turn into a public park.

“We went simply by the report that’s on our website that the majority of the people felt there shouldn’t be any buildings in the park, that was his (Wiese) basis for his decision and so was mine,” said Westbroek. “But I changed my mind. I think anybody is entitled to change their mind when you get feedback.”

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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