The Brigadier Murphy Armoury is an imposing and impressive structure but its days may be numbered.
The Department of National Defence is currently examining “future requirements” for the 103-year-old structure near Vernon Jubilee Hospital. Read between the lines and that means Ottawa could possibly demolish the building.
And if that were to occur, the entire community would lose a link to its past. The armoury played a critical link as thousands of men trained in Vernon before heading overseas in both world wars. It is the traditional home of the legendary B.C. Dragoons and thousands of young cadets have spent time there.
At the time it was built, the armoury was considered an essential component of the community, to the point that the city donated the land.
But of course times have changed and society’s attitudes towards all things military have shifted. Government must also rationalize its financial resources and whether limited dollars should continue to be invested in facilities.
But while DND may no longer need the armoury, a wrecking ball doesn’t need to be the next step.
Are there community-based activities that could thrive there? Where would Vernon be if the old schoolhouse in Polson Park had been demolished? Instead, it has allowed the Okanagan Science Centre to inspire our young people?
So much of our architectural heritage has been lost in the region and it would be a shame if the armoury disappeared too.
It’s difficult to know what should happen next, but hopefully community leaders will step up to the plate and pursue options to maintain the Brigadier Murphy Armoury for future generations.