The owner of 574 Walter Ave. has left the property to Saanich to become a natural park.

The owner of 574 Walter Ave. has left the property to Saanich to become a natural park.

Heritage home to become park space in Gorge-Tillicum neighbourhood

Property at 574 Walter Ave. to become natural park

In a rare move the Saanich Heritage Foundation is approving the removal of a registered heritage home.

And for good reason.

The once prominent cottage that Welsh carpenter John Lloyd and wife Margaret built at 574 Walter Ave. in 1914 has been without much needed repair for several decades. Boarded up and vacant, the home will be removed as its owner has bequeathed the property to Saanich to become a natural park.

The new park will be 62 feet by 120 feet, at the corner of Walter Avenue and Dysart Road.

“I grew up with a friend who lived at 574 Walter, and even then it had neglect and maintenance problems,” said Coun. Vic Derman. “It has problems that go back to when I was a kid, I’m not saying how long ago that was.”

Council approved a report from parks and recreation that recommended its removal from the heritage registry.

Despite its derelict state the home will go for sale. The property will be rezoned from residential to P-4N (natural park).

It’s not likely the house will sell, in which case there are heritage elements that could be saved, said architect Brad Shuya, president of the Saanich Heritage Foundation.

“We support deconstruction and would like to support salvage and deconstruction,” said Shuya, who also supports the property’s removal from the heritage registry.

CAO Paul Thorkelsson was quick to remind council and staff the new park must stay within the definition of a natural park.

“If it’s not used as a natural park, the owner left instructions for the property to revert to the United Church, so natural park is an emphasis,” Thorkelsson said.

Rob Wickson, president of the Gorge Tillicum Community Association, is familiar with the home and property.

“Ideally we will install a path that cuts through the corner of the property, as a park, for pedestrians,” Wickson said. “There’s some nice trees and one that’s not in good shape, I expect it may come down.”

The home was part of Saanich’s heritage walking tour and is described as a remnant from the tail end of the western boom that preceded the First World War. The dwelling’s original verandah has been enclosed, original bargeboards complete with saw tooth detailing and finials at the gable peaks survive. The house features cedar shingle siding and a picturesque roofline.



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