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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

St. Mary's Decision On Hold

Owen Sound | by Jonathon Jackson  

City Council defers decision on the possible demolision of St. Mary's school building.

The issue of whether or not to save the original St. Mary's School Building in Owen Sound will be revisited in three weeks.

City council was expected on Monday night to debate a recommendation by staff to grant site plan approval for the Bruce Grey Catholic School Board to construct an addition to the current school building.

The addition would incorporate a commemoration of the original 120 year old structure, which would then be demolished.

But the absence of three members of council on Monday led Councillor Jim McManaman to move that the issue be tabled until March 21st and his motion was passed unanimously.

McManaman has said many times that more should be done to save the building rather than simply commemorate it -- but he says that viewpoint has nothing to do with why he wanted to put the issue off.

He says the issue is simply too important to debate without all of council present.

Mayor Deb Haswell is on vacation, City/County Councillor Arlene Wright is away at a conference and Councillor Jan Chamberlain was also away on Monday.

Community Services Director Pam Coulter says the school board has no plans to move forward in the next month -- so a delay of three weeks will not affect the board.

The issue has been before council since at least 2008, when the city decided to designate the building under the Ontario Heritage Act.

That was one year before the board closed up the building -- saying the structure is shifting and is cost-prohibitive to repair.

Even if the board wanted to repair it, the province will provide no money for that purpose.

Council decided last April to withdraw its intention to designate the building, choosing instead to work with the board on a redevelopment of the site which would commemorate the heritage.


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