Red Balloon building ordered demolished

Gord Heppell, of downtown
Gord Heppell, of downtown's Cowichan Merchants Building, plus core merchants and residents, wonder why it's taken some five years to fix the former Red Balloon building, now ordered demolished by city hall.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland file

The owner of downtown Duncan's former Red Balloon building has been ordered by the city to demolish her damaged historic structure — that's become a core eyesore of construction for years.

Susan Faulker said she and her lawyer will attend Tuesday's special public meeting at 4:30 p.m. in city hall concerning council's remedial action recently sent to Faulkner about 85 Station St.

"Ms. Faulkner is entitled to have council reconsider these (demolition) requirements, and has requested such reconsideration," her letter — now posted on Duncan's website — from corporate-services director Karen Robertson reads.

Only Faulkner and her lawyer are allowed to address council at Tuesday's meeting.

That huddle may see councillors' demolition order stick, changed or cancelled, Robertson explains.

The complex mess boils down to determining legal blame for three events that allegedly affected Faulkner's building: a hit by a city snow plow during a 2009 blizzard; water damage to the structure's wooden foundation; and alleged damage done during Craig Street revitalization work.

In June, a News Leader Pictorial feature reported downtown merchants were frustrated repairs to the old Red Balloon building were taking far too long, leaving the structure an eyesore that's driving business away.

Some blamed Duncan council for foot dragging — and failing to fast-track legal and insurance glitches — on prodding renovations to the building at Craig and Station streets.

The building's protracted fixes began in 2009.

Recent talks — about responsibility for damage to the wooden building — had involved city lawyers and the Municipal Insurance Association of B.C., plus legal counsel and insurance agents representing owner Faulkner.

"There's no question it's an eyesore. I have nothing but compassion for business people downtown," said former Duncan business improvement Area president Faulkner, who sold her Red Balloon toy shop business in 2012.

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