Was, “What do you think will be some of the upcoming issues in the next term of Council will be?” A very perceptive question and of course, from our point of view as we look at things from a different angle, one not fully answered by any of the respondents. Platitudes about the Harbour and Downtown revitalisation abounded and yet none about the Biggie, in our view – the redevelopment of the West High School site.
As we know this building will become empty in a couple of years (in the middle of the next term of Council) and there will be cries from all for the Council to do something about a Heritage site and a protected building in the middle of it. Former Mayor Delanty, in a bio of the the late Col G King, a former and celebrated Principal of the School, said that Col King presided over five expansions of the school. As we can see when we look at the image in this post the original building, in the pic, is hidden by the 60s expansion on the
West East side – not shown.
Despite the opinions of from many who all have different opinions about the future use of this site one clear fact cannot be forgotten – this site is in the middle of the Heritage District and as such Heritage rules apply. But as we have seen in the rezoning application for the “Legion project” Heritage rules can be flouted and ignored and Staff reports slanted to give the impression that all is well when a developer wants to do business in or near the Heritage District. But it is not! With the trumpeting of a new Heritage Guidelines Study, which we predict will either lie on a shelf after adoption or be completely ignored, and its design and use being a big part of the new Councils’ work we can expect this issue to be big and will need a lot of time spent on it by the new Council.
So the question is why didn’t any of the putative Councillors identify this a one of the issues that they would have to deal with?
Probably because the two incumbents have never publicly been supportive of strong Heritage measures and protection and the new people have had little to do with the issue and are obviously ignorant. But the issue cannot be ignored. We do believe, readers correct us if we are wrong, that a closed school has to be offered to the Municipality as a public use before disposition on the open market can take place. If that is the case then we are back to the debate that ensued when the former Thomas Gilbard public school was closed. The Town said we have no money to buy and besides we have no real use for it anyway, a group of locals (Citizen Brocanier was involved in this effort, we recollect) tried to establish a Community Centre but failed to find the money and a local developer bought it and converted it to condos.
Whatever the final use is we know one thing this will be a project for the new Council – even if they vote not to get involved – just a heads-up for those on the podium last Thursday night.