District of West Vancouver has decided to postpone the demolition of the Navvy Jack House, reversing a decision taken in a close door meeting on June 20 to demolish the home.
At a close door meeting, the council had decided that the historical house should be demolished because of its poor condition, high restoration and renovation cost.
At a council meeting on July 20, council reversed that decision after the community, including the West Vancouver Historical Society, decried the decision.
In a letter published in the North Shore Daily Post, the president of the society, Rod Day, said the decision came as a great surprise to the society.
“This was done without consulting or informing its own Heritage Advisory Committee and the West Vancouver Historical Society and without meaningful public consultation,” he said.
At the latest council meeting, the council passed a new motion, postponing the demolition of Navvy Jack House to September 14.
This would give a group of interested members of the public to consider and provide additional information on whether a portion of the house should be preserved, the motion states.
The group would also give public input on where the preserved portion of the house should be located, what the estimated cost of raising or moving the building will be and what would be the capital and annual operating costs for the proposal, and how much of that cost can be fundraised.
District of West Vancouver will also have a staff representative to answer questions or requests for information from the group.
The house at 1768 Argyle Avenue was built by Navvy Jack, whose real name was John Thomas. He bought the property on the waterfront to build a home for his bride, the daughter of Chief Capilano, in 1874.
The district bought it in 1991 from Lloyd Williams, with whom the district signed a life-tenancy agreement. And it was in 2013 that the council told the staff to work on a business plan for a nature house at the site.
The idea, spearheaded by West Vancouver Streamkeepers Society, was to create an “exciting, new, intergenerational, multi-educational experience—a nature house showcasing the natural beauty of our community.”
However, the nature house plan couldn’t move forward because the house was rented out to Lloyd Williams, who lived there until his death in 2017.