Heritage Review board wants third-party inspection on Cook Residence
An old property in Regina is causing much stir as groups argue over whether it should stay or go.
The Cook Residence’s future is now before the courts — and with the matter in the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation Review Board’s hands, they now have a recommendation.
The board wants the two parties — Heritage Regina and the owners, Carmen Lien and Adriana Gourgaris — to commission a “mutually agreed upon and unbiased neutral third party to undertake an invasive home inspection,” according to the report submitted May 31.
That request is to determine the condition of the home and provide a more reliable cost estimate of restoring the Cook Residence, one that will hopefully sit somewhere in the middle of the two wildly different estimates each party has already put forward.
Lien and Gourgaris’ private estimate to revive the property to heritage property standards would cost upwards of $3 million, while Heritage Regina put forward an estimate nearing $300,000.
The report finds issues with each inspection and says not only do those numbers vary widely, the inspections were not “invasive,” and they also have no way of telling whether the inspection reports are unbiased.
The Cook Residence, which is located on the corner of Albert St. and Hill Ave in the Lakeview neighbourhood, is considered one of Regina’s oldest and most heritage properties. It was built in 1929.
Lien bought the home in November of 2018. He had plans to demolish it, but in January of this year, the City issued a Notice of Intention (NOI) to designate the Cook Residence a Municipal Heritage Property.
In March, Lien and Gourgaris formally served the City with an objection to the NOI in accordance with the Heritage Property Act.
A public hearing was held May 2, in which the board received eight written submissions and heard verbal testimony from Lien and Gourgaris and Heritage Regina, as well as five other speakers related to construction, realty, and each of the parties including Heritage Regina’s president, Jackie Schmidt.
Schmidt says this recommendation is fair and vital to the final outcome of this back-and-forth.
“It’s a good next step,” said Schmidt. “It’s a fair process.”
Schmidt also believes that the final estimate will be closer to Heritage Regina’s on the lower end than Lien’s.
“This third party cost will probably come in at where the lower costs were gonna be,” she said.
“Only after it looked like it was going to have heritage status did [Lien] look into getting a report done, so he wants to have a report that says the costs are outrageous.”
Schmidt added it would be “disappointing” if Heritage Regina’s fight to have the mansion saved so this process can be used as an example for “best practice,” for future properties.
“It’s very important that this gets designated so we understand that our policies are in place and that they are best practices and we can be [assured] that we can stand behind the heritage of our city.”
Global News reached out to Lien for his opinion on the recommendation for a third party inspection but he did not respond.
A spokesperson for the City of Regina said they have “no further comment in advance of the report going to council in September.”
The next council meeting in which the Cook Residence will be discussed is Sept. 30.
WATCH: Regina’s city council votes for the province to review the potential Cook residence heritage designation.
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