A 98-year-old gymnasium in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter is still a historical building, but it isn’t a heritage building anymore and it can come down.
Nanaimo city council, at a meeting Monday, voted to issue a heritage alteration permit that will allow for the demolition of the Franklyn Street gym.
The building, owned by Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, hasn’t been used since 2018, when it was damaged by a fire and the resulting fire-suppression efforts.
“They’ve been investigating since 2018 how to proceed with this building … after looking at options for renovations, they’ve determined the best path forward is to demolish the building,” said Dale Lindsay, the city’s general manager of development services.
A staff report recommended issuing the heritage alteration permit, noting the building’s age and condition, presence of hazardous materials including asbestos, and costs of rehabilitation. It added that “from the evaluative perspective, the building is not highly rated with respect to overall heritage value.”
Mayor Leonard Krog and Coun. Ian Thorpe recalled playing badminton in the gym decades ago, and Coun. Jim Turley said he played Robin Hood in a school play there.
“It’s always a sad thing when older buildings have to come down, but with the damage done to this one in particular, and it’s not the most attractive older building we have in Nanaimo … this one really needs to go for a whole series of reasons,” Krog said.