An exterior view of the Orchard House. A public open house to view the condition of the building was held March 4. -Image credit:Jim Elliot/ Salmon Arm Observer

An exterior view of the Orchard House. A public open house to view the condition of the building was held March 4. -Image credit:Jim Elliot/ Salmon Arm Observer

Orchard House under scrutiny

The public had a chance to tour the Orchard House as council ponders whether to preserve it.

Although it is old and cluttered inside, some Salmon Arm residents see beauty and a feasible restoration project in the old Orchard House.

On Saturday March 4, the public had an opportunity to tour the Orchard House, a more than 100-year-old structure which was purchased by the city in November.

After purchasing the house and its surrounding property, the city announced it would demolish it and use the property to expand the adjacent rec centre and pool.

Some members of the public began voicing opposition to demolishing the building as early as Dec. 5.

The open house on Saturday was many people’s first chance to see the interior of the building since the Heritage Chop House restaurant closed.

Several people touring the former dining room, kitchen and bar on the ground floor of the Orchard House remarked about fond memories of when the building was a restaurant. It was Ben and Barb Gartener’s go-to place for special occasions like anniversaries and graduations, as well as nights out when Ben returned from working out of town.

“It would be nice to see it as a restaurant again,” Barb said.

Rosalind Crocker, who is new to Salmon Arm, says the preservation of heritage homes for their historical value alone is common in her native Newfoundland. She said she has a friend back home who has restored properties in worse shape than the Orchard House and turned them into thriving bed and breakfasts.

Sarah Weaver said she was open-minded going into the tour, but would hate to see the building demolished just to build a new parking lot.

Roy van Ryswyk suggested relocating the Orchard House to the northwest corner of the property, a move which he says would preserve its lake views and allow a new pool or recreational facility to run the full length of the property north to south.

Mayor Nancy Cooper was on hand to tour the property herself and get input from the public before the issue comes before city council again on March 27.

“I actually heard from both, I heard people saying we’ve got to keep this and others saying there’s nothing left that is original,” she said.

Cooper also noted the issues with Salmon Arm’s current rec centre and pool facilities.

“What I’m hearing from the public is capacity issues. There’s just not enough room to have the swim club have the time they need,” she said. Cooper added the pool, completed in 1986, is showing its age as well as its failure to keep up with the number of users.