I have submitted the following letter to the Times Colonist. I urge anyone who wishes to see this proposal materialize to consider writing council. Even a short email can make a significant impact on council's decision.
The crowning jewel of a 139-room Broad Street hotel proposal is a heritage asset that unless restored and repurposed as part of the redevelopment effort, could face years of continued degradation and remain at-risk of collapse in the event of a moderate earthquake.
As the defining architectural statement of its block, the nearly 130-year-old Duck’s Building is at the centre of a six-storey vision to bring a flagship hotel to Victoria’s downtown core. Great effort will be taken to preserve its front and rear façades and reclaim its status as a landmark destination.
With unanimous support for the project from the Heritage Advisory Panel, the concept is within the parameters of Victoria’s Official Community Plan and the newly-minted Old Town Heritage Guidelines. It is, literally, a reflection of the City of Victoria’s heritage preservation goals, and the city centre will benefit should it come to fruition.
With regard to the adjacent Canada Hotel, this property suffered significantly from a continent-wide post-modern push for whitewashing history in our cities that yielded the masking of historic façades and an indifference towards the degradation of heritage elements. Many of Victoria’s heritage buildings, in fact, were caught up in this mid-century assault on the built form. Contrary to this approach, the proposed development will see the remaining historically significant feature of this building – a rubble stone wall constructed in the late 1800s – rehabilitated and celebrated.
It would be a shame for council to forgo the many benefits this development will bring to Old Town – including the celebration of those heritage elements that remain – in favour of adherence to the preservation of long-lost heritage.