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Chamber wants more information on Sask. Hospital heritage status

The Battlefords Chamber of Commerce wants more information before it will decide whether to support an application to seek heritage status for Saskatchewan Hospital.
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The Battlefords Chamber of Commerce wants more information before it will decide whether to support an application to seek heritage status for Saskatchewan Hospital.

The request came forward April 17 in a letter from Richard Hiebert of the Battlefords Heritage Society seeking heritage status for the historic 100-year-old psychiatric hospital, which will be retired from service in a few years.

Efforts to seek heritage status have been under way in the past month in a campaign to protect at least some of the historic hospital from developers who could conceivably take the wrecking ball to the whole structure.

Hiebert has been actively seeking letters of support from various interested leaders and groups in the community in their application to the province for that designation. He was able to secure a letter of support April 16 from the City's Parks and Recreation Committee, a letter signed by chair Don Buglas.

However, a similar request for a letter of support ran aground at Battleford town council that same day, with town council citing the need for more information about the building in making their decision.

Chamber directors put off a decision on the same request at their monthly board meeting. At the meeting, directors expressed concerns about what would be involved with provincial heritage status and who would bear the costs.

Several directors suggested the hospital was in such bad shape that costs of renovations would be prohibitive - that it would be cheaper just to build from scratch. Chamber director Leah Milton also noted the hospital has asbestos throughout.

There was support expressed, however, for possibly retaining the existing fa├žade of the hospital in some way.

The Chamber is holding off on any decision on a letter of support until after executive director Linda Machniak contacts Prairie North Health Region to get more information.