Kelowna Mounties have now taken over the investigation into fire that charred the pavilion building in City Park.
According to a press release from Const. Steve Holmes, the investigation by the Kelowna Fire Department has concluded that the blaze is suspicious in nature and was likely intentionally set.
In order to get more information from the public, Holmes said the police are willing to share a few basic facts, which include the fact the pavilion was last checked by patrolling Commissionaires, at approximately 3:45 a.m. on March 6, while a call to the Fire Department was made at 4:40 a.m
“The fire’s point of origin was determined to be outside, under the balcony near the concession, at the north side of the pavilion on the Lake side,” he said, adding there are no suspects at this point.
Running concurrent to the investigation is whether to rebuild the Pavilion building in City Park. The decision will fall to city council, but it’s unlikely city staff will work out of any future incarnation of the 1960s-era building.
“We’ll be working with city council to see what we can do with that site,” said acting city manager Paul Macklem. “We’re not going to rebuild it to house employees.”
Macklem said he believes council will likely take its time dealing with the issue from this point forward.
“I don’t think we’re in any hurry [to rebuild] as long as our staff can be housed,” he said.
Fire crews were called to the downtown blaze just after 4:30 a.m. Sunday and arrived to find the building heavily involved with fire.
By the time the flames were quelled, the building had sustained significant damage. No injuries were reported.
The building was originally a tea house and also housed several restaurants before it became office space for city workers a number of years ago.
The 14 members of the design and construction staff had been working out of the building—which also houses washrooms and a seasonal concession stand—for at least a couple of years.
The staff displaced by the fire have already been relocated to City Hall and may have another workspace inside of a month.
Macklem said staff are “somewhat split” between floors at City Hall and they are working toward finding a space where they can all work together.
“We think we’ll have a solution soon,” he added.
The faster the staff get settled, the sooner they can meet the needs of their customers and capital projects can move forward, Macklem pointed out.
As that work gets underway, city staff are still awaiting the conclusion of the fire investigation to determine if they can safely access the damaged building and see if anything is salvageable.
“It’s too early to say,” said Macklem. “But it can’t be much. What’s not damaged by smoke will be damaged by water.”
A dollar loss for the fire has not yet been determined and it is too early to tell if any of the building is salvageable.
Portable washrooms have been placed at the site and the washrooms at Hot Sands beach will likely be opened earlier than they historically have, said Macklem.
Security is also now on site at the damaged building, the city says.