The ivy spread out over the Nelson courthouse, seen here at full bloom, is to be shorn from the building due to the damage it is causing. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Ivy at Nelson Courthouse to be removed

The ivy is causing structural damage to the building

The ivy at the Nelson Courthouse, which for a century has served as one of the city’s iconic visuals, is to be cut down.

The Ministry of Citizen Services’ Real Property Division, which manages the courthouse, announced Wednesday the ivy is causing damage to the facade of the 112-year-old building and must be removed in April. There are no plans to replace it.

An assessment by Fairbanks Architects dated March 10 states the growth is damaging the facade’s marble exterior and mortar, windows, gutters and roof.

Rats and rodents are also nesting in the ivy and using it to access the interior, it is getting in the way of security cameras, and the roots are also compromising the building’s foundation and leading to water damage.

Mayor John Dooley said he understands and agrees with the rationale behind the work.

“For me, for us as a community, I think it’s really important that we don’t want the integrity of that building damaged by ivy to the point where it could eventually fail,” he said.

The ministry said a five-year maintenance plan had been in place to trim the ivy, but was too costly and inefficient. The courthouse’s marble exterior, meanwhile, is regarded as soft and susceptible to damage by the ivy.

The courthouse is designated a municipal heritage site, and the ivy is described as a “character-defining element.” That means the ministry was required to apply for an alteration permit, which may come before city council as early as Monday’s meeting.

The Nelson Courthouse was designed by Francis M. Rattenbury and constructed in 1908. It’s not clear when ivy spread over the building, but a postcard provided by local historian Greg Nesteroff shows it was present as early as 1931.

The ivy at the courthouse has a special meaning to Susan Wallach.

The Nelson native was a lawyer for 36 years prior to her retirement, while her grandfather Alexander Carrie was a supervising architect for the courthouse when it was originally built. The thought of the ivy’s removal upsets her.

“I think it would be a sad day if they strip it. I really do,” said Wallach. “It’s a beautiful building in and of itself but that ivy just makes it eye-poppingly spectacular.”



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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