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Council defers heritage strategy to budget deliberations

By Ross Lees
Prince Edward County council is doing its best – with the urging of some of its residents – to recognize the importance and value of its built heritage.
At the committee of the whole meeting Feb. 10 at Shire Hall, council heard a staff report from planner Damien Schaefer concerning a heritage conservation strategy.  Council had passed an earlier motion requesting a strategy noting the loss recently of several heritage built resources as a result of not having a plan in place.
A small survey done by Schaefer indicated that 85 per cent of respondents identified heritage as a high priority for council, news that did not come as a surprise to council.
Schaefer’s presentation, entitled The Future of Our Past, identified four strategic directions:  Increased co-ordination and communication; leading by example; making heritage conservation easy and investing in the economic benefits of heritage conservation.
“Heritage is fundamental to our sense of place,” he said.  “This principle is the starting place for the conservation strategy as it provides a broad understanding of how heritage relates to our shared understanding of the County.”
As well received as Schaefer’s report was, council decided to defer it to budget deliberations.
Councillor Dianne O’Brien said it was a good report that should be endorsed, but not until after the budget had been set. “I don’t think we should own this yet,” she said.
Mayor Peter Mertens agreed.
“There are a number of aspects of this report that should be deferred to the budget process,” he said. “We should at least have the discussions in the budget environment.”
Councillor Janice Maynard concurred the report was “great”, but added, “We need a little breathing space here. We have some tough budget decisions to make and some of this is just a little premature for my liking,” she said.
Marc Sequin, vice-chair of the Prince Edward Heritage Advisory Committee, impressed upon council before the strategy was presented that the strategy would be the foundation for the protection and conservation of heritage in the County. He advised council the PEHAC had been consulted in the preparation of the strategy and the committee supported the recommendations for its endorsement, adoption and implementation.
“You, the mayor and councillors of Prince Edward County are the keepers of the County’s heritage,” Sequin said. “By adopting this heritage conservation strategy, you will be taking an important step toward protecting our sense of place. The next step will be to allocate budget dollars for the implementation of the strategy. Without the money, the County’s heritage will disappear and, once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.”

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  1. Dayton Johnson says:

    Janet,,i plan on meeting with tht “Shirt-Tail-Cuzins”to see how we can help. Keep us informed and i’ll get back to you.

  2. Dayton, the Marysburgh Mummers have always put money into Mt. Tabor. The seats, the lights, the staging and a whole lot of other things are there because of the Mummers and the community. As well they have always painted, gardened cleaned etc. Outside performers who use the playhouse for shows and concerts pay a rental fee to the County, just like any other County building like the arenas or the Crystal Palace, which helps offset some of the operating costs. What’s happened at Mt. Tabor is that regulations and building codes for theatres and public performance spaces have now been applied to the Mt. Tabor building, rendering it prohibitively expensive to use until it’s brought up to code (off-duty firemen have to be hired to stand at the exits while the show is on).
    Both the Mummers and the community are quite willing to raise funds to help pay for some of this, rather than just sit back and expect the County to do it all. A “Tabor Fix” committee has planned an auction, a concert at the Regent Theatre and numerous other fund-raising ventures. If Mt. Tabor is going to survive as a community resource and as a historic property, we all need to get behind them.

  3. Dayton Johnson says:

    Question: Regarding all these theatres, halls, community playhouses etc. Do they set aside funds from their profitable productions for just these type of needs? The public needs to know more about the bookeeping of these County facilities.The Tabor is a great little community stage and i would hope they have a repair/maitenance budjet fund set aside OR is it included in with all other County buildings and thereby gets a thinner slice.

  4. Pat Larkin says:

    Ummmm someone might need to reread this. It is called a strategy. A plan. A concept.
    Haven’t we all been really worried about the lawns of Picton. With the water rates going up, we can’t declare heritage a concern as the money we will be wasting watering our lawns is SO much more important. Pass the fertilizer please.

    ps. Great comment Janet on TaborFix…
    If you are on facebook, go here to like….!/pages/TaborFix/165968746785102

  5. Doris Lane says:

    There is no money to put into declaring Picton a heritage district
    at the present time.
    The tax payers in Picton will hardly be able to afford water and sewage. You will see a lot of dry lawns in Picton this summer if it does not rain
    Buildings can have heritage designation without costing money.
    Everyone wants a piece of the pie and there is hardly any left after the necessary things are paid for.

  6. I’m pleased that the County is developing a heritage strategy, but I don’t think we can expect Council to take full responsibility for all the County’s historical buildings. For example, Mt. Tabor Playhouse, a 19th century church in Milford, was originally repurposed thanks to the South Marysburgh Rec Committee and The Marysburgh Mummers. Now it needs major upgrades in order to continue as a community playhouse. Although council either has done or will undertake some of the major work needed, once again both the Mummers and the Milford community have pledged to raise funds in order to ensure the theatre’s continuation.
    Members of the larger Prince Edward County community who have in the past expressed dismay at the loss of historic buildings should be encouraged to contribute to “Tabor Fix”. Those who need a receipt can donate to the PEC Parks and Recreation Committee; those who don’t can send directly to “Tabor Fix” c/o Diane Underhill, 104 Goodman Cresc., R.R.#2 Milford KOK 2P0

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