New Brunswick

Fredericton council defers decision to give Risteen building a heritage designation

Fredericton city council has, for the third time, deferred a decision on whether the Risteen building should be brought under the heritage preservation bylaw.

Risteen building at the corner of Queen and Smythe streets was built in the 1820s

The surrounding buildings have already been demolished but a stop work order was issued for the Risteen building in April, until its heritage value could be assessed. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

Fredericton city council has, for the third time, deferred a decision on whether the Risteen building should be brought under the heritage preservation bylaw.

At Monday night's meeting, councillors gave developer Gabriel Elzayat two more weeks to "examine all of his options" before making their final decision. 

But Coun. Kate Rogers said she's getting frustrated by the delays. 

"To give it status, to make it a heritage building, we actually don't need to see the development plans," she said.

Assessing building's heritage value 

Elzayat planned to build an apartment complex on the site. The adjacent buildings have already been demolished but a stop work order was issued on the Risteen building in April until its heritage value could be assessed. 

Rogers said it's a unique situation for the city to assess a property after it's been purchased and about to be developed.

The Risteen Sash and Door factory was established in the 1870s was one of the first stone-cut buildings in New Brunswick. (Provincial Archives)

"I was supportive of being sensitive and giving the developer time to put forward a development plan, but it's been weeks," she said.

"I'm starting to get frustrated … we don't even need to see those development plans to determine whether or not this building has heritage significance."  

The Risteen building, at the corner of Queen and Smythe streets, was built in the 1820s and was the first stone-cut building in New Brunswick. In the 1870s it became the Risteen Sash and Door Factory.

Despite its long history, the building has never come under any heritage designation.

The historic Risteen House is at risk of being torn down to accommodate an apartment complex. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

As a result, Rogers said, the process for identifying heritage buildings in the capital city may need to change.

"Looking at the pressures that are going to be on our downtown in the coming years because of the increase in population, that's precisely what we need to do," she said. 

"We need to be more proactive in our designation."

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