Ryan Gallagher says it’s “going to take some time to figure out next steps” for Surrey’s historic Strawberry Hill Hall, following a “devastating” fire last week.
The site was currently under construction as part of a $1.2-million rehabilitation project that was expected to be completed sometime in June, as a place for new preschool and childcare spaces, and community rentals.
The hall, built in 1909, was in the process of being renovated, which involved moving the hall a few metres away from the street corner, to make the intersection safer for motorists and pedestrians, according to city hall.
Gallagher, the city’s manager of heritage administration, said “things are on pause there related to that project, unfortunately, with the very devastating fire.”
He noted it’s “still so early in the process.”
“The fire was Thursday morning, it’s Tuesday now. We’re still trying to figure out next steps. It’s a complicated process as you can imagine,” Gallagher told the Now-Leader. “I wish I could tell you more.”
He said the city has received “many comments” from the community about how sad they are to see this happen.
Sad. I had my wedding reception there over 20 years ago.
— Shelley Hegedus (@shelleyhegedus) May 1, 2021
“The hall was a heritage building used by the community since 1909. The city was committed to rehabilitating the special heritage venue … and the range of programs we were going to offer there. It was going to be an exciting project at the neighbourhood level.
“It’s definitely disappointing to lose a building like this because you don’t get the original back, of course.”
Surrey Fire Service received multiple calls around 5 a.m. on Thursday (April 29) that the 112-year-old hall was on fire.
Steve Serbic, Surrey Fire Service assistant chief of operations, said when crews arrived on scene, the fire was already through the roof.
He said there was “extensive damage” to the community hall.
Jason Cairney, Surrey Fire Service deputy chief, said Tuesday (May 4) that the department worked with Surrey RCMP to determine if the fire was suspicious, and following a preliminary investigation, they’re treating it as “accidental.”
“However, we did need to demolish the building partially, take the roof off to make it safe for investigators to go inside and have a closer look.”
That work is ongoing, Cairney said.
– With files from Tom Zillich