News Local

Board opposes designation

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

The public school board will officially take issue tonight with city designs to designate Prince of Wales school as a heritage building.

The Bradford Street school, scheduled to be closed following the 2009-10 school year, is to be put on the municipal register for heritage properties -- an important step in having it designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.

"If a demolition permit is applied for, we will get the information right away," Coun. Andrew Prince, chairman of Heritage Barrie, said of the register. "It will raise a flag."

But Holly Spacek, senior planner for the Simcoe County District School Board, will make a deputation to council tonight opposing the addition of the school to the municipal register.

In a June 18 letter to the city, Spacek said the board also opposes designating the former King Edward school on Bradford Street -- closed a year ago -- as a heritage building.

Both school buildings are more than a century old.

"The school board would oppose such a designation on the grounds that neither school contributes to cultural heritage value," Spacek said in her letter.

Her deputation request does not specify its nature, but by definition it must be contrary to the motion council is considering.

It does deal specifically with Prince of Wales, however, as King Edward is not mentioned in the motion.

The board is also in the process of selling the closed school building and property to nearby Burton Avenue United Church.

Council will also consider a related motion tonight. It's to ask three provincial ministries -- education, municipal affairs and housing, and energy and infrastructure -- to provide specific funding to the public board to allow Prince of Wales to stay open.

Barrie officials see the public school as a vital part of efforts by the province and city to revitalize the city centre.Simcoe Area: A Vision for Growth,a provincial document released June 4, determines that Barrie's city centre will be the focus for population growth and investment in public services and infrastructure.

City councillors would also, no doubt, want to add Prince of Wales, along with other heritage and historically significant buildings, to its municipal register to avoid the demolition of any more old buildings in Barrie.

Steele's China and Gift Shop, which was located at 2 Collier St., was ticketed for designation as a heritage building by council, but not before a demolition permit was issued and work began.

Substantial damage had already been done to the building's interior and exterior before city officials could halt the demolition.

The Steele family also did not favour a heritage designation on their building, which dated back to 1873 and has been a landmark in Barrie's downtown for decades.

Council eventually bowed to the family's wishes, and recognized that there was already too much damage to the building to allow it to remain standing.

Steele's China and Gift Shop has now been completely demolished.

Council, along with Heritage Barrie, were criticized for not having an adequate system in place to identify heritage buildings and protect them from demolition.

Adding buildings such as Prince of Wales to a municipal heritage register, and, eventually, designating them under the Ontario Heritage Act, has been seen as a way of protecting these buildings.

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