Regina City Council debates fate of historic Bagshaw Residence

·3 min read

The fate of the Bagshaw Residence, located in Regina's Cathedral neighbourhood, remains in limbo after Wednesday's city council meeting.

The 107-year-old home had been officially designated a Municipal Heritage Property at August's council meeting, deciding its unique architectural style designed by Frederick Chapman Clemesha and association with distinguished Regina residents Frederick and Esther Bagshaw warranted its preservation.

"The property is one of the few remaining homes of its era in the neighbourhood," said Heritage Regina president Jackie Schmidt. "Character-defining elements, including its location on the property site and its architectural form and facade, mark the home as a key part of the historical and architectural character of the Crescents area."

Schmidt noted the house's unusual covered front porch and multiple-pane double-hung windows, as well as a red-brick chimney that remains original to the house.

Crawford Homes, the current owner of the property, is opposing the heritage designation.

Kaitlin Bashutski, creative director of Crawford Homes, told council the structural integrity of the building has been compromised beyond repair after decades of neglect.

"No significant maintenance has been done to the house since 1984," she said. "The lack of maintenance over time has caused considerable issues throughout the house."

Bashutski included three expert reports on the condition of the home.

"Significant investment and labour is required to restore the structure," Jason Gilchuk of Gilchuk Design & Drafting found in his report. "It is our opinion that the cost of replacement with new would be more economical.

"Existing conditions make this structure unfit and unsafe for occupancy. We recommend the owner demolish the building and rebuild a new structure."

Schmidt argued Crawford Homes' objection to the property's heritage designation is part of a pattern of developers gambling on being granted the City's permission to demolish potentially-significant buildings.

"They "roll the dice" and purchase the property, hoping it will never be designated [a heritage property]," Schmidt said. "They decline the City's offer of financial incentives to conserve the heritage home and apply for a demolition permit so they can tear down the building, redevelop the site and then resell the property.

"When the demolition application is paused to let the City consider a heritage designation for the property, the owners argue that the home they willingly purchased is unsafe, uninhabitable, too expensive to conserve and cannot be resold."

She said the prospective home buyers are hoping they will be allowed to demolish the Bagshaw Residence and build a "new heritage" property on the land.

"Our goal … is to create a home which will be an anchor in the community and eventually become worthy and appropriate for designation as a Municipal Heritage Property," said Brandon Hicks, who hopes to live in the home with his wife Mariia Zaburko. "We have a long-term goal of coming back to [council] in 30 years and revisiting this process."

As well, some neighbours are also speaking out in favour of demolition.

"Rather than walking past the house in its current state, or state of further disrepair, we would prefer to welcome a newly-built home and its residents," said Amanda Schmeling, whose home shares a back alley with the Bagshaw Residence. "The tone of a run-down, vacant home at the opening of the alley is not one we, as neighbours who walk down this alley daily, enjoy."

Councillors, citing their lack of engineering and design experience and the need to hear from experts, unanimously voted to refer the matter to the provincial heritage review board.