By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Oct. 27, 2012
Its cavernous interiors were once envisioned as a place where creative minds would gather to showcase art.
Now, demolition might be its final destination.
Blue Barn, it seems, would never become the arts barn it was intended to be.
It’s environmentally clean, but nothing can happen there unless there is a certificate of compliance from the Ministry of Environment, which can only come if there is an Oceanfront Park.
Blue Barn has no heating or plumbing.
It’s spacious, but getting building permits from the district would present a challenge.
“There are several costs involved in getting this to a usable standard,” said Jonathan Silcock, Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation (SODC) project manager.
Thieves looking for copper might also have unwittingly hastened its demolition.
Silcock said there have been multiple break-ins, thefts and vandalism over the past year on the barn.
“At a certain point, the current costs will outweigh the future benefit of the building and SODC may need to demolish the Blue Barn,” he said.
When that certain point might arrive is anybody’s guess, and an entry point to an unresolved puzzle.
Generous Brownfield funding allowed the SODC to remediate the Blue Barn to a safe level of operation, but it still hasn’t received the Certificate of Compliance.
And it all ties back to the Oceanfront Park.
The original, 2009 Oceanfront development plan, was always supposed to start with the construction of the Oceanfront Park.
The park was an amenity desired by the community, but the park would also act as a cap over the remaining mercury plume.
Its construction would complete an important part of environmental risk management
The Blue Barn was always intended to be cleaned and open after the Park was completed.
Then, it would have 10 to 15 years until the development reached the Blue Barn.
Only then it would face demolition.
But that sequence was upended by grants that enabled SODC to decommission and decontaminate the groundwater treatment plant in the Blue Barn.
This remediation work was completed in 2011, giving the community a clean, but vacant building.
Still, there is no park, and hence no Certificate of Compliance, and hence no chance of getting any permit from the district.
And that might hasten the demolition of the Blue Barn.
Still, Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation holds out hope that it might be usable as a community amenity.
SODC has heard from the BMX groups who want to use it in the winter.
It also has a potential use as an arts studio, said Silcock.
The SODC site area is 93.6 acres, and the park and open spaces account for nearly 29 acres or 31 per cent of the land.
Residential land use takes the next big chunk with 27 acres or 29 per cent of the SODC land mass.
SODC is currently looking for potential developers through the firm Cushman and Wakefield.
Developers who agree with the district-created sub-area plan are more likely to be shortlisted.