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Saint John city councillors ask J.D. Irving Ltd. to save heritage building

Saint John councilors call for preservation of historic building
At a time when many historic buildings in Saint John are facing the wrecking ball, two city councilors are calling for the preservation of one storied structure. But as Travis Fortnum tells us, the owners have no plans to do that.

Two Saint John city councillors are calling on J.D. Irving Limited (JDI) to save a heritage building in the city’s uptown district.

The property where the house is located once held a church, constructed in 1843. That structure was later demolished, and a house was built on the land in 1941.

About 25 years ago, JDI bought the property, which sits on the corner of King Street East and Carmarthen Street, just up the block from the company’s headquarters.

READ MORE: Saint John mulls allowing changes to hidden facades of heritage buildings

JDI has twice asked the city for permission to demolish the home. However, due to its location within the King Street East Heritage Conservation Area, any demolition must comply with the Saint John Heritage Conservation Areas bylaw.

In 2016, the company submitted a proposal to have the property, along with two adjoining vacant lots the company owns, turned into a parking lot for their staff and a green space.

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The proposal was turned down by the city’s Heritage Conservation Board, which must identify the building as incompatible with the heritage conservation area in order for it to be demolished.

Now, two Saint John city councillors are calling for the decaying home to be saved.

“It was built of wood, which would have been a really rare commodity in World War 2, which made it really unique,” Ward 3 Coun. David Hickey explained.

This summer, JDI was issued a notice from the city essentially urging the company to take action with the deteriorating structure.

The company again submitted an application to demolish it, which was subsequently denied.

READ MORE: Saint John throwing away ‘millions’ through demolition instead of deconstruction, former heritage planner says

Hickey and fellow Ward 3 Coun. Donna Reardon are now uniting to call for the building to be brought back to its former glory — something Hickey says is possible.

Two Saint John city councillors are calling for the salvation of this decaying home.
Two Saint John city councillors are calling for the salvation of this decaying home. Travis Fortnum

“The reality now is that it’s becoming too easy to have a vacant building,” he says.

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“You don’t have to pay your water rates, your taxes are lower because your building’s worth less.”

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The two councillors have spoken to a number of media outlets this week, hoping to start a campaign to call for the structure’s preservation.

With new attention on the matter, it seems the wheels may again be turning to get the plot of land out of its current state of limbo.