Investment needed to preserve Lacombe’s historic downtown: business owner

Hannah Downton is completely renovating historic 1913 Denike Block

Some of Lacombe’s treasured historical buildings are at risk unless more money is invested to save them, says a business owner.

Hannah Downton has begun a $400,000 renovation of the 1913 Denike building and what she found concerns her. Paving in the back alley has raised its level and water now flows towards the foundations of the historic block of buildings along Lacombe’s picturesque main street.

Downton fears if the problems are not fixed, the lifespan of nearby buildings will be cut short because of crumbling foundations.

“Personally, I think it’s a huge concern,” said Downton, who wrote a letter to city council urging it to act to ensure the downtown’s iconic buildings are protected.

She recently had to excavate the back of her building and replace the foundation because asphalt layers laid down over decades in a nearby alley had changed runoff patterns.

“(The need for foundation replacement) was not because the foundation was failing. It was that all of the water was running into my foundation and physically washing it away,” she said.

The owner of Downton and Co., an interior design and renovation business, has always loved old buildings and was seeking a central location for her business when the Denike Block, which had been owned by a travel business, came up for sale.

An extensive amount of work was required to restore the building and other downtown buildings are in the same shape, she said.

“There’s a lot of money being taken out of them and not a lot being put back in,” she said. If Lacombe wants to maintain its special downtown historic character people will have to invest in maintaining the old buildings.

“(Lacombe) needs to have people caring about the buildings and restoring and refurbishing them.

“My building would have had five years left on the brick if we didn’t do what we did,” she said.

Downton praised the city for how easy it has been to work with. City representatives have been to see her building and understand her concerns, she added.

“I think that it is something they’re going to work on in the next few years.”

While her extensive foundation work should protect it from future damage, she is not sure other historic building owners can afford or are willing to do the same work.

Downton hopes to buy and renovate other historic buildings nearby to ensure they do not fall into such disrepair they cannot be saved.

City council discussed a report on proposed improvements to the historic downtown at its Monday committee meeting.

A report from staff said a request for council to approve $90,000 to$100,000 to rebuild the laneway behind the Denike building is expected to be part of the next budget.

Council is also expected to look at other options to beautify the downtown, including directing $170,000 per year over 10 years from a reserve fund, which was the recommendation of staff. Another option would be to undertake a major 50th Street streetscaping project, estimated to cost 4800,000 to $1.1 million.

Downton hopes to have her building’s renovation completed by November.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Deadline for cabinet to decide future of Trans Mountain expansion is today

OTTAWA — The federal government is widely expected to green light the… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports manufacturing sales fell 0.6 per cent in April

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 0.6 per cent to… Continue reading

China suspends imports from Canadian pork company

BEIJING — China will halt imports from a Canadian company after food… Continue reading

New tool launched to shine light on ethnic media coverage of election issues

OTTAWA — A new tool launched Tuesday could help voters learn what… Continue reading

Manslaughter trial hears recording of accused praying for forgiveness

CALGARY — A trial for a man charged in the death of… Continue reading

Pro-pipelines rally draws crowd to City Hall

Canadian Taxpayers Federation says Canada missing out on billions in revenue

The corporate winners and losers from the Toronto Raptors’ historic win

We The North mania spread across Canada as the Toronto Raptors created… Continue reading

Efforts continue to raise profile of New Brunswick sprint champion from 1900s

HALIFAX — A New Brunswick sprinter who achieved world-class success in the… Continue reading

Campaign to eradicate rodents puts other animals at risk

The bird was a female cardinal. It was on the ground and… Continue reading

Raptors announcer credited with calming massive crowd after shooting

TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors’ seasoned play-by-play announcer is winning widespread praise… Continue reading

Opinion: Throwing cold water on fee for calling firefighters

There’s never any upside to adversity. Whether it’s the loss of a… Continue reading

‘This is our story:’ Winnipeg General Strike commemorated on screen, stage

WINNIPEG — A moment in history that changed Canada forever is headed… Continue reading

Manslaughter trial hears recording of accused praying for forgiveness

CALGARY — A trial for a man charged in the death of… Continue reading

UN high commissioner urges redress as Canada responds to MMIWG inquiry

OTTAWA — Canada’s response to the conclusions of the inquiry into missing… Continue reading

Most Read