Vancouver's massive 1920s-built Fairmont Building could be moved to another site

Mar 22 2018, 5:58 am

Relocating the historic Fairmont Building currently on the site of the old RCMP headquarters on the Heather Street Lands in Vancouver’s Cambie Street Corridor will require a feat of engineering.

And that is the recommendation being made by staff with the City of Vancouver as part of the redevelopment of the site, which is owned by a consortium consisting of three local First Nations and federal crown corporation Canada Lands Company.

The historic Fairmont Academy training building at the old RCMP headquarters in Vancouver. (Google Maps Streetview)

Heather Street Lands Vancouver

Aerial view of the existing condition of the old RCMP headquarters at the Heather Street Lands, with the Fairmont Building located on the northernmost parcel. (Google Maps)

The City told Daily Hive that the consortium has requested the removal of the 1920s-built, Tudor-revival style building from the site as it goes against reconciliation given that “it (the building) represents a difficult era for the First Nations people in Vancouver, when customs and culture was oppressed and the Nations peoples were shifted off their traditional lands.”

A demolition of the 30,000-sq-ft building was previously suggested by the First Nations, but the municipal government is looking into a relocation instead given the value of the building’s heritage and unique architecture.

The building has very significant heritage value given its ‘Class A’ rating in the City’s Heritage Register, the highest rating possible.

A study undertaken by a consultant determined that the building could technically be moved off the site, either as a single unit or split into three sections then reassembled.

Fairmont Building Heather Street Lands

How the old Fairmont Building on the Heather Street Lands could be relocated off the site. (City of Vancouver)

“It is anticipated there would be several years following the Policy Statement completion to find a suitable site and develop a program for the building,” said the City.

The project of relocating and repurposing the building would become a City project, with the municipal government taking on a “receiver” role. This requires the approval of Vancouver City Council.

If the role is approved, City staff would commence the process of looking for a new site, however, if a suitable site is not found within a certain timeframe, then the building would be demolished.

Fairmont Building Heather Street Lands

The old Fairmont Building on the Heather Street Lands in Vancouver. (City of Vancouver)

City Council’s decision will also be based on the results of a feasibility study currently being conducted to determine the projected cost to move and renovate the building.

Either way, the building will not be a part of the redevelopment as the site it sits on is slated to become a new cultural centre with 15,000 to 20,000 sq. ft. of space, including gathering space, multi-use rooms, and event space.

Later this spring, City Council will consider the proposed policy statement for the redevelopment, including the recommendations for the Fairmont Building.

The Heather Street Lands redevelopment also includes up to 2,000 homes in buildings ranging from three to 24 storeys, four acres of park and open space, a 69-space daycare, and space for a new elementary school.

Heather Street Lands Vancouver

Artistic rendering of the selected concept for the redevelopment of the Heather Street Lands in Vancouver. (Canada Lands Company)

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