I am in a bit of a quandary here.
Let’s face it. As a taxpayer a lot of the stories I write for this paper affect me personally and any editorial comments I want to make, I reserve them for the editorial column on page two of the paper. Otherwise, I do my best to keep my personal feelings out of the stories I write.
But, I acknowledge that as the editor of a community newspaper some readers may want to accuse me of a conflict of interest when I report on issues that affect me personally.
And, as the President of the Georgina Historical Society, newspaper stories dealing with issues of importance to that organization, may also be interpreted by readers as biased reporting and written with prejudice.
So the story on council’s decision to demolish the former Cooke’s United Church in Pefferlaw has caused me considerable distress as I forced myself to remove my personal feelings from the story.
As a member of the Pefferlaw community, this news is very troubling. As the president of the Georgina Historical Society I mourn the impending loss of a heritage building. Personally, I think more needs to be done to make an effort to save the building.
It is a building that is 128-years old and I strongly oppose a decision that does not first consider all of the options available to preserve the historical and cultural significance of a heritage building.
History matters and once a piece of history is gone, it is lost forever. We need to consider not only the impact this building has had on our past, but also the significance it could have on future generations.
I have other issues with some of the financial projections in the report that were used to justify the town’s decision to demolish the building. The report states a it would cost $452,370 to complete repairs on the building to meet the Ontario Building Code. The Building Code Act provides a definition for heritage buildings and building code exemptions are made for these structures. The former church meets that definition but I don’t believe the assessment of costs considers these building code exemptions.
Also, the property is listed on the Georgina Heritage Register and a municipal register is “an important tool in planning for conservation of heritage properties and provides interim protection from demolition” according to the Ontario Heritage Act.
But what about you…should an evaluation of all options be considered prior to demolition? Is this building worth saving? Do you envision it playing a role for future generations? Do you think it is historically significant? Are you willing to pay for its maintenance?
Let me know what you think because ultimately the building belongs to you and you deserve an opportunity to weigh in on these questions and the decision.