Decision on former bank building unlikely before end of year

Darrell Cole
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Museum society wants building preserved

Amherst is no closer to making any decisions on the fate of the former BMO building in downtown Amherst.

It likely won’t be until the end of 2014 before Amherst town council is in a position to make any long-term plans on the future of the former Bank of Montreal building in downtown Amherst.

AMHERST – It will be some time yet before Amherst is in a position to make any long-term decisions on the future of the former police station at the corner of Victoria and LaPlanche streets.

“We haven’t made any decisions or commitments on that building,” Mayor Robert Small said after Tuesday’s volunteer reception at the Amherst Fire Department. “There’s been a proposal submitted to the town and it would be inappropriate for me to talk about that proposal until it’s concluded.”

Small said he expects that by the end of the calendar year council should be in a position to make a long-term decision on the future of the building, but he stressed again the town is not interested in simply demolishing it.

“There’s a will to come up with a proposal that will work for the community,” Small said. “There are costs associated with both demolition and renovations and quite frankly we haven’t budgeted any money for either one or the other.”

The mayor said the money is planning to do some work on the building’s roof. He expects that money will come out of the next budget and will be meant to stabilize the building.

Earlier this month, the mayor received a letter from Bill Fairbanks on behalf of the Cumberland Museum Society.

Fairbanks said the society believes the town should beyond the belief that the facility should pay for itself and consider its position as a historic landmark.

“The town has spent millions of dollars in the past few years to make our downtown a showcase and taking the Bank of Montreal building out of the streetscape would be a step backward,” Fairbanks said in his letter to the town. “The smile of the town would show a gap at its very centre.”

Amherst paid $300,000 to buy the former BMO building, and the Dominion Public Building in December 2010 from a Halifax developer. The Dominion building was converted into a new home for Amherst town hall while the town has been unable to come up with a use for the other building.

Earlier in 2010, the town hired a contractor to fix portions of the building's façade after concerns were raised about the potential for stonework to fall from the parapet at the top of the structure.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Amherst News, Amherst Fire Department, Dominion Cumberland Museum Society Bank of Montreal BMO

Geographic location: Victoria, Halifax

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