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Burnaby wants to demolish a 99-year-old home, fold into park

City staff say it would be 'cost intensive' to get the Louis and Annie Hill residence back to its former glory.

The City of Burnaby wants to demolish a 99-year-old heritage home and integrate the property into Deer Lake Park.

The home at 6570 Deer Lake Ave. was home to early settlers Louis and Annie Hill who built the cottage in 1925 after they retired from fruit farming, according to a staff report presented to the community heritage commission June 13.

Louis Hill was elected to Burnaby’s first municipal council in 1892 and was responsible for the subdivision of the Buckingham Heights neighbourhood in Deer Lake.

“The relatively modest house does not include any outstanding architectural features,” stated the staff report, which noted the historical significance is the home’s relationship to the Hill family.

The residence is listed in the city’s heritage inventory but not the protected Community Heritage Register.

6570 Deer Lake Ave. (red pin) backs onto the Deer Lake festival lawn at Deer Lake Park in Burnaby. Google Maps

The city acquired the property in 2006, and the building has been used as storage “until it was recently vacated and boarded up due to security challenges at the site,” said the report.

The city has changed its plans for the property more than once in the last five years.

In 2019, the city wanted to upgrade the home for office use, then decided a year later to demolish it to make way for a childcare centre for the children of city and RCMP employees.

After another daycare site was selected, the city revisited plans for the home again.

The city hired an architect to study if the building could be preserved and renovated for modern use.

The architect found the attic and basement floors cannot be occupied, leaving the 1,296-sq.ft. main floor as the home’s usable space and, due to zoning, the uses are “limited” to offices or program space for the Burnaby Village Museum or Shadbolt Centre for the Arts.

“Given the small usable floor space, the practical civic uses for this building are limited and would be cost intensive,” said the staff report.

The City of Burnaby wants to demolish the Louis and Annie Hill Residence and return the property to park use. City of Burnaby

The city said upgrades would have to include:

  • Heating and ductwork
  • Electrical panel
  • Septic system
  • Hazardous materials abatement
  • Roof replacement
  • Plumbing pipes replacement
  • New kitchen
  • New water service
  • Installing a ramp and accessible washrooms

Instead, staff are recommending the property “be returned to use as natural area” with added signage to tell the property’s history.

The home would be demolished and landscaped to be accessible to Deer Lake Park visitors.

The city said the poor condition of the building means it isn’t a candidate for relocation.

Demolition, remediation and landscaping would cost about $583,000, including a 30 per cent contingency and the cost of an interpretive plaque commemorating the home.

If the city were to upgrade the home to office or program use, it would cost between $1.46 million and $1.65 million, according to staff estimates.

If council approves staff’s recommendation, the lot as part of Deer Lake Park will be reviewed as part of a future Deer Lake Master Plan.

Preserving the existing trees is “critical,” staff wrote.

Council is expected to vote on the report at its meeting June 24.

The Louis and Annie Hill Residence was built in 1925 at Deer Lake. City of Burnaby