MINDEMOYA – A recommendation is being made to Central Manitoulin council to have the Old School building torn down.
“I think we have to talk about the elephant in the room,” stated Dale Scott, chair of the property committee, at a municipal property committee meeting held this past Tuesday.
Councillor Angela Johnston said, “we budgeted money this year to take the Old School down.” She pointed out due to the pandemic it hasn’t taken place thus far, “but the situation hasn’t changed. I still think we need to take it down.”
“I agree with Angela,” said Councillor Derek Stephens. “The money is there. We need to address this issue, and if we are planning to rebuild or have some type of new facility, there needs to be a buffer for the property. Right now the (Old School) building is in the way of anything we want do concerning a new facility. The money is there and we need to proceed.”
Councillor Scott noted that $150,000 has been included in the municipal budget to tear down the Old School building, and that inspections have been carried out on the building. “We need to get the person best qualified and have the building taken down.”
Mayor Richard Stephens stated, “I will oppose this quite strenuously. This is a historic building, it is unique and it has a very solid base. There is no reason to bring it down. I would like to find a purpose for it, not destroy it just because it is sitting there.”
“This is all great, but we have no purpose for the building,” said Councillor Johnston. She explained this has been studied, “and we have tried to find a purpose for the building. I’d be in favour of keeping it if we could find a purpose for the building, but no one has come forward with a viable purpose.”
Councillor Stephens put forward a motion to instruct staff to put out a request for proposal for demolition of the old school. Councillor Johnston seconded the motion.
“This issue has been discussed for years,” said Councillor Scott, noting the municipality has spent “$60,000 in consultation (fees).”
“I like the idea of a proposed replica (of the Old School) being put in the Pioneer Museum park area,” said Councillor Johnston.
This idea was brought up last summer, to have some of the materials from the Old School used to make a replica of the building, said Councillor Scott.
“I like to see old structures rebuilt, reused and preserved, but I think we’ve gone through all the steps we needed to go,” said Councilor Scott. “We’ve given a lot of time to repurpose the building. It would take money to refurbish it and we haven’t had an entrepreneur or philanthropist come forward with $2 million with a use for the building. Meanwhile, the municipality is paying $5,000 a year on water and sewer and insurance. I don’t think it is proper to sit and wait any more.”
Mayor Stephens had requested a recorded vote on the motion to put out a request for proposals to tear down the Old School. Councillors Scott, Johnston, Stephens and Rose Diebolt voted in favour of the motion, with Mayor Stephens voting in opposition.
“That (motion) will now go to council (for consideration),” added Councillor Scott.