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HomeBusinessExclusive: Vancouver’s city hall gets dirtier as cleaning delayed at least a year

Exclusive: Vancouver’s city hall gets dirtier as cleaning delayed at least a year

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Bob Mackin

Vancouver city hall has seen better days.

If you think the exterior of the 12-storey heritage tower at 12th and Cambie is looking dirty and dingy, and in dire need of a scrub and polish, you are not alone.

Top: the city hall facade, lower rusted mat and copper door, left, green scum under ground floor window.

theBreaker.news has learned that the edifice has not had a full top-to-bottom wash in almost a decade. And it is only going to get worse after funds were redirected.

“The last time there was a full cleaning of the exterior of city hall was 2010 just before the Olympics,” city hall spokeswoman Gail Pickard said by email. “There was another cleaning in 2012 and at that time a sealer was applied.”

Before the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Vision Vancouver majority city council under Mayor Gregor Robertson spent $2 million on cleaning and renovations at city hall.

The planned 2019 cleaning, during the first year of Kennedy Stewart’s mayoralty, was delayed to 2020, because of other priority work this year: unanticipated electrical work to mitigate risks and safety issues, Pickard said. On May 21, a power outage forced evacuation and temporary closure at city hall. 

The new cleaning date is to be confirmed. It could cost between $100,000 and $200,000. Whenever it happens, Pickard said, it would involve a dry ice process that minimizes wear and tear on the building.

“This process requires significant set up and is costly, therefore we only do it when needed,” she said.

Photographs shot by a reader of theBreaker.news on July 23 show:

  • Frame of rust around a doormat and copper door;
  • Grim green stains under a ground floor window next to the memorial plaque for fallen workers;
  • Grime that accentuates the embedded Vancouver City Hall sign and wave icons on the facade;
  • Various green stains and blackened streaks in corners.

Architect Fred Townley designed the art deco/moderne building, which went up in less than a year for $1 million (or $18.7 million in 2019 dollars) and opened Dec. 4, 1936. It gained heritage status on its 40th anniversary in 1976.

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