Congratulations must go to Mayor Stephens and Councillor Al Tribinevicius for standing up for their values against the other angry councillors! In the January 14 Central Manitoulin council meeting, Mayor Stephens took great criticism over the fact that he had announced his disagreement with the majority council decision to destroy the historic old school building. Councillors had received letters and emails of disagreement with the demolition decision, which some interpreted as harassment, and not as sources of enlightenment. Mayor Stephens reported the stack of requests he had received to save the school. He compared this with the total of three he had received asking for its demolition.
Many in the municipality are under the false assumption that the building is nothing but a money pit. On the contrary! Keeping the building for another ten years as a monument to its own past would entail construction of a new roof. This was estimated in 2018 to cost $26,000, let’s say now to be about $35,000 with today’s inflated cost of materials. Add to that the yearly cost of hydro ($400) and insurance ($1,200), making a total cost of $51,000 for keeping the building.
On the other side, demolition cost was estimated by Tulloch Engineering to be $120,000-150,000, plus another $60,000 or more to pave the area for parking. It would cost taxpayers about $100,000 less to stay the execution.
Council members, in my opinion, it is you who owe the mayor an apology for your bad decision to lay waste the school! Open your eyes and see what your electorate wants. Send out a referendum with this year’s tax statements if you must. Rescind or at least defer your motion to destroy the building. Keep it, at least for the time being, if only for what it stands for, the heritage of our municipality and the origins of our sense of values. Please think again!