West Vancouver’s Navvy Jack home spared from demolition

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One of West Vancouver’s oldest homes has been spared demolition and the neighborhood will begin the process of securing its future as a heritage home.Councilors voted Monday to end an earlier proposal to demolish the Navvy Jack House and seek provincial heritage funding instead.

The district will also allocate $ 150,000 to determine if the waterfront home can be restored and relocated from the rising bank.

“I think it’s the right decision,” said Mayor Mary-Ann Booth. “We really resolved as a board to commit to doing our best. ”

John “Navvy Jack” Thomas was a Welsh deserter from the Royal Navy who married Rowia, a woman of the Squamish Nation, in the early 1870s. They raised their four children – Sampson, Christine, Mary and Emma – in what is now called the Navvy Jack House. The house was continuously occupied from 1873 to 2017 and is now owned by the municipality.

The house is in dire need of repair and its future has been faced with months of uncertainty.

After consulting with the public and the Squamish Nation, options included a $ 2 million renovation, demolition of the house, or rebuilding it as a nature center or replica.

The West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society has called for the site to be rehabilitated to ensure a safe place to farm salmon in the nearby creek before swimming out to the ocean. The house must be relocated for this work to be done, and it must be done by summer 2021 to comply with fishing laws.

The district will attempt to meet those requests, Booth said. Fundraising and grants will be needed to cover the costs, but the district will respond to those requests with a commitment of $ 1 million, she added.

The total cost of restoring the house could be $ 2.5 million to $ 5 million, Booth said.

Dozens of people were called to Monday’s council meeting, Booth said, including descendants of Navvy Jack as far away as Churchill, Man.

Booth requested that collaboration with First Nations continue throughout the restoration process of the house.

“It’s a big problem for the community. This has enormous historical significance, but it also potentially comes at a huge price. And during COVID, it really highlighted financial vulnerabilities from a district perspective. So we have to be realistic about the amount it’s going to cost to restore the house, ”Booth said.

“It’s a big commitment for the community. I think it’s doable, but I think it’s going to take time. “

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