News / Winnipeg

City, property owners disagree on heritage status for Donald Street properties

The Aldous Building and Phoenix Block are nominated for heritage protection

Cindy Tugwell of Heritage Winnipeg

Metro file

Cindy Tugwell of Heritage Winnipeg

Adding three more historic buildings to Winnipeg’s crop of heritage properties is a question that has yet again been set in motion at City Hall.

The Historical Buildings and Resources Committee recommended Thursday that three Donald Street properties– the Aldous Building and its annex, as well as the Phoenix Block– all located on the edge of the Exchange District, be designated with heritage status.

The properties, built in 1905 and 1910, respectively, are described by city staff as in "good structural condition."

The problem, however, is that according to forms submitted by the property owners to the city, they do not want the buildings designated.

“I do not want this building under no circumstance to be [designated with] heritage status.  It really had no real historical value,” a comment signed by Phoenix Building owner Bernard Cheater reads.

Cindy Tugwell, executive director of Heritage Winnipeg - an organization that promotes the preservation of historic buildings - calls the owners’ reluctance “disconcerting.”

“The fundamental reason for designation is to protect the building in its entirety, so it’s not demolished,” she said Thursday.

Tugwell added a second reason is to ensure buildings are property maintained so to avoid the fate of “demolition by neglect.”

For buildings such as these on outskirts of the Exchange District – a national historic site - she said a non-designation is effectively “eroding the streetscape.”

“You’re going against the very grain of what the national historic designation is about." 

For Coun. Jenny Gerbasi who sits on the committee, she agreed Thursday that “there seems to be a lot of evidence of their value,” pointing to the buildings surroundings. 

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