By Ian McCallum, St. Thomas Times-Journal Staff
Tuesday February 14, 2006
With the clock relentlessly ticking, St. Thomas council Monday directed the
city's management board to provide more information before council deals with
an application to demolish the main building and chapel at Alma College. The
request comes in spite of the fact the city only has until March 23 to address
the request by owners Alma Heritage Estates, at which time, under the Ontario
Heritage Act, it is assumed permission to demolish has been granted.
Time is running out in more ways than one, Municipal Heritage Committee chairman Angus Walton told the Times-Journal afterwards.
Following last weeks public meeting to gather input on the demolition request, the MHC recommended the permit request be denied. The committee also urged council to take action under Section 35.3 of the heritage act, which prescribes minimum standards for the maintenance of heritage properties, and actively involve the province to take action on preserving and restoring the former school for girls.
In a letter sent to the citys environmental services department on Dec. 23, London, Ont., lawyer Brian Worrad indicated Alma Heritage Estates, a family consortium consisting of Brian Squires and the Zubick family of London, is seeking to demolish the main building and the chapel. Alma Heritage Estates spokesperson Jill Zubick told the Times-Journal two weeks ago the family is frustrated by restrictions resulting from its designation under the Ontario Heritage Act. Following the MHC public meeting, she warned, If this goes out in limbo again nothing is gained. We need councils support.
Lets hope this is not going to languish as it did before, agreed Walton. But it cant languish because after 90 days if council doesnt reply, then its assumed the owners have a demolition permit. Its a case of were going to have to make a decision quickly. How long can that poor building withstand the elements?
In a unanimous vote, council directed the management board to provide more information on Section 35.3 of the heritage act by no later than March 7.
The board consists of Mayor Jeff Kohler; John Dewancker, director of environmental services; Pat Keenan, city planner; Wendell Graves, city clerk; Michael Carroll, Valleyview Home for the Aged administrator; Chester Hinatsu, director of Ontario Works; Fire Chief Bob Barber; Bob Wheeler, Economic Development Corporation general manager; Bill Day, city treasurer, and Graham Dart, director of human resources.