Debate over Milner House's future resurfaces
The future of Milner House, a heritage building in Winnipeg's West Broadway area, is under debate again as neighbours raise new concerns the house may be demolished.
Milner House has been the centre of a battle involving area residents, who want it to be preserved, the City of Winnipeg and Great West Life, which owns the building.
Built in 1909, Milner House has been vacant since 1990. The insurance company bought it in 1991 with plans to demolish it and expand its parking lot. But so far, the city has said no to that plan.
However, talk about Milner House is starting to resurface at city hall.
"The reason the house has been talked about now is that there is going to need to be some kind of a rezoning application in order to legitimize the parking that's already there," Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry Coun. Jenny Gerbasi told CBC News.
Gerbasi said the application, which could include plans to demolish Milner House, has not yet been filed.
Great West Life declined to comment on the home's future on Thursday.
Meeting set for next week
A meeting with all interested parties is slated for next week, and the West Broadway Community Organization says it wants to be there.
"In this city, with the housing crisis as it is — less than one per cent vacancy — having a house sitting vacant is kind of a problem," said Greg MacPherson, the organization's executive director.
MacPherson said at last estimate, it would cost around $500,000 to restore to home. While that seems like a lot of money, he said something needs to be done.
"If the city can't leverage enough pressure against them to make them change that approach … if they're going to remove the house, the neighbourhood needs something of equal or greater value," he said.
Ken Opaleke, who lives across the street from Milner House, said he would not even consider letting the building be torn down.
Opaleke is also the director of West Broadway Outreach, an inner-city youth program, and he said there's a severe need for new digs "like this, as a space where we can, you know, inspire children to go on to do amazing things with their lives.
"That'd be huge for us."