Saturday, July 15, 2006

Letter to Saskatchewan Command - The Royal Canadian Legion - December 25, 2005

December 25, 2005

Mr. Brent Burns
Saskatchewan Command
The Royal Canadian Legion
3079 5th Avenue
Regina, SK
S4T 0L6

Dear Mr. Burns:

I am writing regarding the historic Royal Canadian Legion building located at 315 19th Street East in Saskatoon.

A December 22, 2005 Saskatoon StarPhoenix article (see below) reported that the Saskatoon branch in question approved sale of the land to a local developer. There appear to be concerns over the process used to arrive at that decision. From a heritage standpoint there are concerns from many citizens as well -- including myself. I feel it would be a tragedy if the building were lost.

I would like to ask will the Saskatchewan Command be investigating this matter further? Will another vote be held so all local branch members can have a chance to attend?

Thank you very much for your time. I look forward to your reply.


Joe Kuchta
Saskatoon, SK

Legion approves land sale to Remai
Downtown hall was built in 1929

Lori Coolican

The StarPhoenix

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Members of the downtown branch of the Royal Canadian Legion have already approved a proposal to sell their historic property to Remai Developments.

A majority of members voted in favour of the sale at a Dec. 14 meeting held at the hall on 19th Street East, according to a letter received recently by the Legion's Saskatchewan head office in Regina, provincial executive director Brent Burns told the StarPhoenix Wednesday.

That information contradicts the words of the downtown Legion's president, Dave Rousay, in an interview Tuesday. Rousay said the branch had to discuss the proposal with its general assembly to work out the details before making a decision to sell the building.

The Legion branch still has to provide details of the sale, along with its plans for moving to a new location, before the provincial office can give approval to the plan, Burns said.

A branch member who did not want to be identified by name called The StarPhoenix Wednesday to say the Dec. 14 meeting was hastily called and was only attended by about 50 people out of a total membership list of about 300.

The meeting was told Remai Developments was offering $1 million for the property and wanted an answer by noon the following day, and Legion officials had already hired a lawyer who was in attendance, the branch member said. The latest property tax assessment for the building valued it at just over $250,000.

"This is really terrible. There's something really dirty about it," the member said.

Rousay could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Local heritage advocates have expressed disappointment over the plan, noting the hall, built in 1929, has one of the last horse-hair dance floors in the province and was built by Legion members who survived the First World War. The hall has no official designation or protection as a heritage site.

It is not part of the city's heritage conservation program, which gives property tax breaks to interested owners who agree to certain conditions aimed at conserving their buildings' character, said city heritage co-ordinator Barb Sprigings.

Even if it was part of the program, the owner of any property designated as a heritage site under the provincial Heritage Act can apply to have a building de-designated and demolished or significantly altered if they wish, she said.

If anyone objects to such a de-designation, the matter is sent to a provincial body for review and a recommendation is made to city council for a final decision, Sprigings said.

The city has been compiling a database of "built heritage" properties around Saskatoon since 2004. Inclusion in the database provides no legal protection against demolition.

Under the zoning requirements for the River Landing area, Remai Developments can convert the Legion property to serve a variety of uses: recreational, cultural or tourism, retail, hotel space, residential development or offices, according to Chris Dekker, manager of special projects for the city.

Remai's current plans for a hotel and spa complex at River Landing -- which are under review by a new architectural firm -- call for 210 underground and 100 above-ground parking stalls. The company has not indicated its plans for the Legion property.

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2005


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