Vinyl allowed in downtown Prince Rupert, but Heritage Committee raises concerns

At its September 6 meeting, City Council voted to allow vinyl siding to be put on buildings in the downtown core, but it wasn’t without concerns from the community.

At its September 6 meeting, City Council voted to allow vinyl siding to be put on buildings in the downtown core, but it wasn’t without concerns from the community.

Revisions to the Downtown Development Area guidelines will allow vinyl sidings on a maximum of 25 per cent of a building and no lower than eight feet above the sidewalk or average ground level. The idea cam following meetings with businesses located in and contractors who work in the downtown core.

And while not opposing the revisions to the guidelines, the Heritage Advisory Committee said they were concerned about the precedent being set.

“We do have concerns with respect to the heritage integrity of our downtown and wonder if this is not just the beginning of a move to ‘design by contractor’,” wrote committee chair Rhoda Witherly in a letter to council, also acknowledging that the downtown core has begun looking “bedraggled” due to the local economy..

“As we all know the downtown area has a wealth of heritage resources which have been, by and large, maintained with some heritage accuracy….Our heritage core is a valuable asset to the community, but once it is covered in vinyl or the basic heritage design features are destroyed recovering any heritage value will be difficult if not impossible.”

While City Planner Zeno Krekic noted there were no formally designated heritage buildings in the downtown core, councillors did say they shared some of the same ideals as the heritage committee.

“I would ask that the  building department can keep this in mind. I don’t want to see the Besner Block covered in vinyl siding,” said councillor Gina Garon.

“My only suggestion is that, when we have these meetings with businesses in the future about development guidelines, we invite the heritage committee to be a part of that discussion,” added councillor Sheila  Gordon-Payne.

In the end all councillors voted in favour of the motion while Nelson Kinney, who sits on the Heritage Advisory Committee, said he would take some of the feedback from the meeting to the other members.