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Repairs to Picton’s grandstand would meet heritage guidelines

A great crowd at the grandstand to witness Manitoba Premier Rodmond Roblin's visit to the Picton Fair. - Photo from the Alan R Capon collection

A great crowd at the grandstand to witness Manitoba Premier Rodmond Roblin’s visit to the Picton Fair. – Photo from the Alan R Capon collection

Council will consider an application for repairs to the grandstand at the Picton fairgrounds when it meets Tuesday night.

The heritage building has been reviewed by an engineer who has identified a rotted support column and other remdial works needed. A staff review, including comments from the Heritage Advisory Committee confirmed the application conforms to all policies.

A Heritage Permit would require all materials used be of similar or higher quality; that replacement and repairs surrounding the rotted structural components undertaken replicate the heritage value and that the repairs address the source roof leak.

The original grandstand was constructed in 1878 and initiated the establishment of the fairgrounds hosting numerous important events over its lifespan.

On Sept. 29, 1896, His Excellency Lord Aberdeen arrived in Picton to open the 44th annual exhibition of the Prince Edward County Agricultural Society. It was the first time a representative of royalty had visited the county, named after Prince Edward, a member of the Royal Family.

Over the years, other visitors included Governor General Lord Byng, in 1921; First World War flying ace Billy Bishop in 1944 and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1971.

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  1. Gary says:

    No, you will not likely see a rectangular brick mass with little aesthetic appeal that is inaccessible, uninsulated, sucking energy like crazy while letting the elements in. A white elephant structure that could not be sold and no one had an interest in until such time the wrecking crane caved in the wall on a glorious Sunday afternoon. The church folk gave it up as useless and the owners were no longer going to carry the burden. For this particular bricks & mortar it was time to die.

  2. Marnie says:

    We will never again see a Crystal Palace or the equivalent of the Brick Church constructed in our town. Those days are over and cheap, ultra-modern and efficient are the watchwords. I doubt a heritage committee will ever fight to save the new post office when it becomes a century building, assuming that it lasts that long. Are the modern structures that are replacing heritage buildings an improvement? Sadly, no. A few like The Edward Building will be worth saving one day, but for others including our banks and the ugly PO, demolition would be a mercy killing. Those who fight for the preservation of historic buildings are not doing so because they want the town to look the way it did when they were six. They do it because they realize we are the custodians of a few rare treasures that should be protected for future generations to enjoy. Take away all of Picton’s old buildings and what do you have? A town with no character and no past – just cheap efficiency. The demolition of the Brick Church may not have put bread on the table but neither does that vacant lot on which it stood and whoop de doo we may one day soon have a DQ, Burger Palace or similar fast food outlet there – real food on the table for certain. The idea is not to preserve Picton as a sort of Black Creek Pioneer Village but to protect some of the best examples of early life here. Our forefathers built structures that would last. We slap up flat-roofed modern buildings which are the Ikea of architecture and beat our chests about being progressive. Fine to build for efficiency but wrong to be chomping at the bit to tear down the best of our past.

  3. Emily says:

    An old red brick former church does nothing to put food on the table or pay water bills. We have far more to be concerned about.

  4. Fred says:

    Never said it was. Just pointed out that it was an ugly large tin box. Not heritage value, but beauty is in the hands of the….! Who is the heritage police anyways? What about our new builds? Will they not be historic someday? Does everything have to be red brick, limestone foundation or barn board to qualify.

  5. Ken Globe says:

    I wasn’t here for the tin shack. My point was that if you are going to pick on whatever building, or structure in the area because it’s not “heritage”, or you just don’t like it for what ever reason. Then you need to look at ALL the buildings in the area. All structures have a shelf life, even with lots of maintenance. The grandstand is more prone to rot because it is exposed to the elements. Old limestone buildings like what are in the downtown are subject to buckling and bowing out the sides because of the makeup of the stone that was used. All of those buildings, unless the owners are willing to shell out lots of money, are going to require major repairs at some point. Some of them will require more than what the property is worth. Except to the people who want to remember their town the way it was when they were six.

  6. Marnie says:

    Fred, the arena is not and never was the issue. We’ve had an arena at the fairgrounds since circa 1957. There has been more than enough development at the fairgrounds in recent years and it has reached the point where it is becoming obvious the long-range intent is to squeeze out the fair and shove it in a back corner of the site. The arena is not the problem.

  7. Marnie says:

    If memory serves Ken there were three horse barns and a cattle shed where the skate park and family fun park now are located and nobody was doing wheelies in them. As for the Curling Club and the arena they were set back a long way from the street and I expect that the original Curling Club of a much earlier time did not look that different from the present structure. Both the Curling Club and the arena are key to the fair since they house exhibits. They are not in your face in the same way that the skate park and proposed splash pad will be. The fairgrounds is now neither fish nor fowl. On one side you have the Old Boys’ Entrance, the Crystal Palace, the Fruit Building, and the grandstand which are heritage structures and on the other a skate park, family fun play area and soon a splash pad. Not a compatible use of the site.

  8. Fred says:

    I guess you wanted the County to build a heritage arena like the old tin box that burned.

  9. Ken Globe says:

    I don’t know, having a skate park and splash pad two doors down from the hospital seems to be a pretty good idea. Yes, for a week out of the year the fair is pushed back into the nether regions of the fairgrounds, but for the other 51 weeks of the year, the area where the skatepark now resides was a place for local leadfoots to do donuts and kick up dust while out for a rip. As for heritage and keeping with the grandstand and Crystal Palace, you think that the curling and town arena’s are keeping with the “heritage” look of the fairgrounds?

  10. Marnie says:

    Michael, you miss the point. A splash pad is fine but not in the middle of an historic fairgrounds where it does not fit with the Crystal Palace and the grandstand, It also pushes the fair further back on the grounds diminishing it even further. Kids young enough to use a splash pad are unlikely to be hanging around the streets getting into trouble anyhow. I have no problem with children, a skate park or a splash pad but locating the latter pair at the fairgrounds was not a FABULOUS plan. The suggestion that kids get into trouble because they have nothing to do is old and tired. That’s an excuse not a reason. How do you explain the fact most of our forefathers stayed out of jail without these amenities?

  11. Paul Cole says:

    I think the skate park was built before there was a designated heritage area or guidelines. I personally feel its important to maintain the historic character in The County yes the skate park seems out of place and had we had an established set of heritage designation criteria it may not of been built there in the first place. We have to start somewhere though…

  12. Chuck says:

    I initially raised it not Marnie. I raised it because it is pertinent to the Grandstand. Everyone is on the Heritage bandwagon now days, right or wrong. A skate park does not fit into a heritage district when it sits beside the Historic Fairgrounds Entrance, Crystal Palace and Grandstand. It is out of place with the historic location. That’s why it was raised, not because any agenda against youth or developing activities for them.

  13. Michael says:

    Why are we now talking about the FABULOUS skate park when the topic is the grandstand. However since Marnie opened the door; Marnie you obviously do not like children and would prefer them hanging out causing trouble. The kids around town are lucky to have a such wonderful facilities and have a great core of volunteers. Leave the kids out of this conversation and stay on topic.

  14. Marnie says:

    Well, Mark, you are really a “now” kind of guy. I suppose they could tear down the grandstand and replace it with a set of bleachers. That would add a lot to the fairgrounds. The demolition of the grandstand was proposed once before and we all know how that went. Doubt you will have much luck in gaining support for that idea this time around either. They no longer use the Old Boys Memorial Entrance either so why not propose knocking that down, too. And hey, if you really want to go big or go home they have this old leaning tower in Italy that’s past its prime.

  15. Mark Rose says:

    It blows my mind that the same people who complain about any other kind of expenditure in this friggin town are fine with sinking money into a structure that gets used once a year and serves no purpose.

    People sat in it at the turn of the century, though. How historic. Its a bunch of rotten old pieces of lumber with a steel roof.

  16. Marnie says:

    Yes, by placing the skateboard park there they effectively destroyed a wonderful old fairgrounds that would have been the envy of a lot of communities. Add a splash pad and the picture will be complete.

  17. Chuck says:

    The skate park really fits in well with the old entrance, Crystal Palace and the Grandstand.

  18. Dennis Fox says:

    Please ignore my recent comments below – I accidentally posted them on the wrong article. Sorry.

  19. Dennis Fox says:

    I read today on the CBC site that the Ontario government paid a total of $800K to wealthy people who bought the Porche 918 Spyder – valued at $1.1 million!! Why you might ask? Because these cars are deemed to be environmentally friendly and the government provides such incentives to the rich. Another example of the Green Energy Act – all paid for by the taxpayers! If it helps bring a smile to your face – Michael Wekerle of the CBC’s Dragons Den owned a Porche 918 Spyder, until it went up in flames at a Caledon gas station, last year. And we have to pay for this nonsense??

  20. Marnie says:

    It’s okay for the “regular taxpayer” to pay operational costs for a splash pad or fork out for maintenance of a ball diamond etc but a rip-off to maintain heritage structures? Fortunately there are people who are far-sighted enough to realize that it is heritage structures such as the grandstand and the Crystal Palace that give our town character. It’s not about power, it’s about protecting what makes us unique.

  21. hockeynan says:

    I thought they spent all kinds of money on the grandstand a few years ago. How could a beam rot that bad in a few years?

  22. Kawartha Dave says:

    Another project that will cost 3 times more than it should. Heritage designations are a farce that are designed only to bleed more money from the regular taxpayer. These committees should be disbanded, allowing repairs and alterations to be done not just correctly, but economically. Another situation with people who are in love with their own perceived power.

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