The Brunswick Hotel is beyond being salvaged based on engineers' reports, says Moose Jaw Mayor Dale McBain. ((Niall McKenna/CBC))

There's debate brewing in Moose Jaw about an old hotel on a historic street that could soon be meeting a wrecking ball.

City council voted Monday to strip the Brunswick Hotel of the "historic" designation which had protected it from demolition. According to a city official, the celebration of the incorporation of the City of Moose Jaw took place at the River Street hotel in 1903.

Former councillor Glenda James is among those fighting to save the downtown property and says other buildings could be at risk because the city may decide to take away their historic designations, too.

"What's happening is, we're just picking away at that and destroying the very thing that made us unique," she said. "After a while, we're going to be like anybody else with just a few nice buildings on the odd street, or even on Main Street. That's not that unusual at all."

'There is a sense of sadness in the fact [the Brunswick Hotel] was an integral part in the founding of Moose Jaw ... on the other part, the building has seen the ravages of time.' —Mayor Dale McBain

Moose Jaw Mayor Dale McBain defended the repeal of the Brunswick historic designation.

Based on reports from several engineers, the Brunswick simply could not be saved, he said.

"There is a sense of sadness in the fact it was an integral part in the founding of Moose Jaw," he said. "On the other part, the building has seen the ravages of time."

The owner of the Brunswick, Little Chicago Development Company, wants to demolish it as well as other buildings in the area by the spring. The company proposes to develop a spa, shopping centre, parkade and small convention centre. The development will have a 1920's Chicago theme and highlight the street's colourful history.

The company said it is proposing to spend $55 million revamping that section of River Street.

Montgomery said he hopes to have the Brunswick demolished this spring, but still needs to apply for a demolition permit from the city.

On online forums, opinions on the Little Chicago plan have been mixed. Some say the city is turning its back on its history, while others say River Street is desperately in need of economic development.