Sunday, July 16, 2006

Letter to the editor - April 11, 2006

Historic Legion Building victim of council apathy

The StarPhoenix

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Citizens interested in Saskatoon's built heritage should be concerned with disturbing information that has surfaced surrounding the downtown Legion Building, which owner Remai Ventures Inc. has scheduled for demolition next year.

It appears the hall's pending demise may have been avoided had our city council cared more.

On April 5, 2004, council unanimously resolved that Mayor Don Atchison meet with veterans' groups to discuss the possibility of establishing a museum within the historic 1929 building. Initial discussions took place, and the Legion's building review committee received approval from members to continue talks with the city.

On May 28, 2004, the Legion delivered a letter to the mayor's office stating that a museum could be established, but the branch would not be responsible for renovations, upgrades, or its day-to-day operations. There would also need to be compensation for loss of revenue for the hall.

The city never responded to the letter, which city councillors considered at a closed-door executive committee meeting. No other discussions with the Legion took place, and the city did not explain why.

In fact, the matter never made it back to council. It appears the city simply shut the process down, without public debate, and walked away.

The mayor's office recently declined to offer any meaningful comment on the matter other than the parties "were unable to come to a mutually suitable arrangement." The city made certain of that the moment it pulled the plug on negotiations.

This will only serve to deepen public mistrust and lead to further questioning of council's motives in redeveloping the south downtown.

It appears demolition was the desired outcome. It's an insult to our veterans.

Joe Kuchta

┬ęThe StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2006


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