Ming Sun building won't be demolished if owner takes actions by January 31, 2014
The City of Vancouver has declared that the Ming Sun Benevolent Society building at 437-441 Powell Street does not pose an immediate threat to public safety.
In an order posted on the 122-year-old building, the city declared that "it is unlikely that the building will suffer an imminent collapse" now that the bricks have been removed from the exterior.
"However, there are several actions that need to be undertaken in order to address the structural integrity of the building, both immediately and over the next six to eight months," Carli Edwards, deputy chief building official and assistant director of licences and inspections, wrote in the order.
That includes addressing the structural stability of the wall on the eastern and southern portion by adding plywood sheathing. This work must be completed by January 31, 2014.
The city states on its website that it is "supportive of the heritage concerns related to this building; however, our first concern is ensuring the safety of both the public and the neighbouring building".
Two engineering reports have already concluded that the building was structurally sound.
Meanwhile, the Friends of 439 group has launched a fundraising drive to preserve the building.
People can contribute at any Vancity branch under the account "the Friends of 439 Powell".
The Ming Sun building was originally known as the Russ House Hotel before it was bought by the Uchida family and converted into a boarding house early in the 20th century.
On December 20 in the midst of a snowstorm, city inspectors, firefighters, and police descended on the Ming Sun building for an inspection, blocking off Powell Street.
That drew criticism from society spokesperson David Wong, who wasn't notified in advance.
The inspection came after a flood in the building, which the society has deemed "suspicious".
Afterward, Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang defended the city's actions in a phone interview with the Georgia Straight.
He said that after the flood, the fire chief issued a "protection order", which only he can lift.
"So that's why all the firemen were down there," Jang noted.
He added that the city had to look at the structure after the brick façade had been taken down.
"And so that’s why the inspector was there with the fire chief because he was simply checking to make sure the removal of those bricks didn’t cause more damage,” Jang said.