Town, school board at odds
Laura Secord students will attend St. Davids Public School next September. School board representatives and town council members don t agree on heritage designation for the historic building.
When Laura Secord students move from Queenston to St. Davids Public School at the end of the school year, the town wants the historic building to be preserved.
At last night's council meeting, it was decided to give the near-century old building a heritage designation, despite the District School Board of Niagara's (DSBN) efforts to stop it.
The DSBN is lobbying to prevent the designation from happening, fearing the property will be harder to sell with the restrictions designation will place on it.
DSBN Planning Supervisor Christine Thompson told councillors the board is "very concerned" with the potential heritage designation.
"A heritage designation would mean additional time being spent on getting permits for demolition and create additional requirements for prospective purchasers and for construction," she said.
In her short presentation to council, she asked councillors to not support the heritage committee's recommendation for designation.
Concerned residents let their voices be heard when they told council to move ahead with the process of designation.
Jim Armstrong, president of the Queenston Residents Association (QRA), said the property has a rich, important history and jeopardizing the future of the site would mean "running the risk of losing a historical asset that connects us to our past."
Without designation, the property could be transformed into any number of uses, including housing.
"In order for a developer to have success on that site they would have to build on that property, meaning they could come in and do whatever they want," said Armstrong.
"Our group has a vision on what could happen to that property, but it would have to be kept in the public domain."
Ron Fritz is a retired law professor who said the town should have no worries of the case being taken to the Municipal Board of Ontario if they choose to designate the school as a heritage site because of the evidence of the building's importance to the area's history.
Council approved the recommendation to begin the public process for heritage designation. There is a 30-day appeal period if the property owner or anyone else wants to object.