Friends of the Old School in standstill on necessary assessment work on building until COVID-19 pandemic restrictions ease

Mindemoya Old School

MINDEMOYA – While the Friends of the Mindemoya Old School (FOMOS) has made progress on its business plan, COVID-19 has proven to be an obstacle to continue to move forward at this time, until access can be gained into the building by a company that will provide information and an assessment on the mould and asbestos requirements as well as what it will take to renovate the building. 

“The issue is that we are at a standstill due to COVID-19 and the provincial restrictions,” said Alison McAllister, treasurer of FOMOS, when contacted by the Recorder on Tuesday. She told the Recorder, “our business plan has progressed quite a bit, but the major component now is to be able to get into the building so the specialist we have from a company who are specialists and licenced in carrying out (mould and asbestos) abatement work and renovations on a building like this can access the building. So, we are at a standstill on the financial end; we need to know how much it will cost for this work to be carried out before we can move ahead. The municipality (Central Manitoulin) had an engineering company in to do an assessment but they provided guesstimates. We need real numbers.” 

“We have a contracting company who are licenced in carrying out abatement work, and the work needed on the building to have it re-established in the community,” said Ms. McAllister. She pointed out, “there has been some fear-mongering by a couple of councillors on the mould and asbestos. But it is not the end of the world, and can be dealt with after a proper assessment is carried out. And, as I mentioned, we have a company that is willing to do abatement and restoration of the building.”

Being at a standstill in the process, “is not anyone’s fault,” she said, noting, “we are not allowed in the building until some of the COVID-19 restrictions are released. Then we can move forward.”

Ms. McAllister pointed out the Friends Of committee has done grant searches, and “the money is there for us to tackle this project. The building can be revitalized and end up used in a purpose that would bring something good to the community. It (the Old School building) needs to be sustainable and we think this can take place.”  

“We now have 168 members currently,” said Ms. McAllister. “We are trying to not only promote membership but the heritage value of the building, and as a community there is support to make it viable. In a very short period of time we have gained 168 members, have a website, Facebook page, and our members are very actively supporting our mandate and to prevent the demolition of the building and revitalize it for the community.”
“We are standing by awaiting the first opportunity to have this company to get in the building and do an assessment so we can get proper quotes and estimates, so we can carry out proper analysis and search funding sources; there are a lot of them,” said Ms. McAllister. She pointed out that a lot of the funding sources are dependent on groups like the Friends Of group having a lease or ownership of a building like the Old School in writing, and then the group can apply for grants. “Until we have that building in some capacity we can’t apply for many of the grants.”

“We understand the municipality wants to make sure we aren’t just going to put a new roof on the building and leave it alone for 35 years,” said Ms. McAllister. “We have a group of professionals in our membership and people in the group and in the community are behind this project and wanting to find a viable use and heritage for the building.”