The site of the oldest industrial building in New Westminster could be transferred to the city for use as an emergency service station after it collapsed last weekend.
The roof of the abandoned Gas Works building at 12th Street and 3rd Avenue caved in suddenly on Sunday. No one was hurt.
The facility was built in 1886, but the site has sat vacant for decades due to contamination caused by the site’s original use as a coal gasification plant and its subsequent use as a foundry, a paint manufacturing facility and a sash and door manufacturing operation.
The large lot is owned by the provincial government, but has sat in limbo due to the high costs of cleaning and redeveloping the land.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations confirmed to Global News contamination is present in soil and groundwater at the site.
On Monday, ministry staff were on site, along with officials from the City of New Westminster.
The ministry had a structural engineer assess the building, and there is a recommendation to demolish the north end wall and the remainder of the roof, supported by both the ministry and city.
The ministry says that would leave a brick shell that could be used by the community in the future.
Prior to any redevelopment, however, site remediation is required.
The ministry says site redevelopment is currently challenging, given the combination of the contamination and the requirement to maintain the heritage-designated building.
Remediating the site while retaining the heritage building requires installing pilings underneath to allow contaminated soil to be removed and replaced.
The provincial government also says the building is seismically unsafe for occupation without significant upgrades and its location limits the feasibility of constructing a large residential tower typical of the neighbourhood.
As to who will be footing the bill, the remediation and building preservation costs for the property would be shared between the province and the City of New Westminster.
The province says it will be paying for engineering work and costs associated with security to ensure public safety after the collapse.
With files from Justin McElroy