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County updating non-designated heritage list

By Sharon Harrison
A notable landmark for those driving County Road 33 in the north-west part of Prince Edward County, the former grain elevator located along the Millennium Trail, just off Salem Road, was added to the County’s non-designated heritage list at a recent planning and development committee meeting.

The 0.53 acre parcel of municipal land containing the grain elevator was deemed surplus by council earlier this year and forms part of a report by the community services, programs and initiatives department which highlights municipally-owned, non-designated properties on the municipal heritage register.

Under the Ontario Heritage Act, all municipalities in Ontario are required to maintain a municipal register listing all formally designated heritage properties.

Emily Cowan, director of community services, programs and initiatives, said council may also expand the register to include non-designated properties they believe have cultural heritage value.

“The non-designated properties that are currently on the list will be reviewed by the newly-formed heritage designation working group,” she said. “Before that group begins its formal work, staff looks through it for municipal properties that were on the list, and are seeking to remove the old fire hall located at the former Camp Picton and add to the list the grain barn at Salem Road, located adjacent to the Millennium Trail.“

“The fire hall doesn’t share the characteristics of the majority of the buildings on the property that it exists on, and mould has been discovered and remediation would be required, so we are suggesting that it be removed,” Cowan clarified.

“We have already sold the old fire hall to Base31 and they have the intention of tearing it down, and it doesn’t really seem to have any heritage value,” added councillor John Hirsch.

“The Salem Road grain barn is not currently on the list and it was recently made surplus to requirements by the municipality for divestiture, and council asked that we talk to the built and cultural heritage advisory committee about designating it before it is marketed for sale,” Cowan explained.

The land and buildings at Salem Road were purchased by the County from the Canadian National Railway in 1996 and have stood empty since. It was declared surplus in March.

“We took it to that committee who endorsed the addition of the property to the non-designated register, so the newly-formed heritage designation working group would, if this is approved tonight by council, be looking at a list that does not include the former fire hall on Base31, and then would newly include the Salem Road grain barn.“

Cowan also noted that some housekeeping was undertaken with the non-designated list as there were some items that were designated already, so the list will be cleaned up and the clean list will be posted on the County’s website.

As a result of the update, 10 properties were removed from the non-designated inventory list as they have previously been designated as heritage, among them: the Royal Hotel, Wellington’s Tara Hall, and the Moses Hudgin Log House.
“Non-designated properties must meet certain Ontario regulation criteria which determines whether a property is of cultural heritage value or interest.”

As such, the former fire hall at the former Loch Sloy business park, the former Canadian Air Force Base (now Base31) on County Road 22 was been removed from the non-designated listing, as approved by council Wednesday night.

The original building on this parcel of land was built in 1943, with an addition in 1977, where in 1985 the County (the Township of Hallowell at the time) purchased the building from Loch Sloy Holdings for the establishment of a fire hall.

The 1940s former fire hall at the former Camp Picton was suggested to be removed from the heritage inventory listing due to mould and that is does not share the characteristics of the majority of buildings on the rest of the site. New owners Base31 would like to tear it down.

The notable landmark of the grain elevator and land located at 2550 Salem Road were purchased by the County from the Canadian National Railway in 1996 and have stood empty since the acquisition.

In 2022, a hole in the roof of the grain elevator was discovered and is slated for repair this year.

“This building stands as a testament to the robust use of the railway in Prince Edward County from 1879, until its abandonment in 1995,” noted the report.

Councillor Roy Pennell noted the grain elevator, which is in Ameliasburgh and not in Hillier as the report suggests, questioned how it would make it on the list as it is not a 100-years-old.

“I talked to the person whose father owned it, as late as today, and she said ‘what a joke’; it’s not much bigger and would make a good bird house if somebody wanted to have birds,” said Pennell.

“It’s not that big in square footage, it’s several storeys tall, but I believe this is one area where the municipality would be wise if they can sell it for a decent buck, maybe get a little commercial, tear it down; the way I see it now, it is no benefit, I see it as having to keep it forever because whose going to buy it?”

Councillor Hirsch said the grain elevator does, in the opinion of heritage experts (of which he said he is not one), have cultural heritage features.

“In some people’s opinion, if we are going to sell it, it may be worth more to a potential buyer as a heritage building than not,” said Hirsch. “It could get turned into some kind of a little tourist attraction or little store or something like that.”

He stressed that it is not being designated now, it was simply being put on the list, meaning it will get further consideration, noting it could be designated if it met the proper criteria at a later date.

Describing the property as “unique” councillor Chris Braney said, “It’s interesting sometimes when you reflect, you think you want to go forward with, and when you step back a bit and listen to what people in the community have to say, and the opportunity of maybe creating a unique little parkette because it is right on the trail,” said Braney,

“There are certainly many opportunities for that property, it is embraced by many people in the community, especially driving down 33.”

Councillor David Harrison noted that if the property is not designated, a purchaser could apply for designation on his own.

“We’ve got all kinds of properties in this County that are unique, they are old, but once again, the building is not even a century old, and that can be proven,” Pennell chimed in again.

Cowan confirmed if the property was designated heritage, there are protections in place to not allow it to be torn down. Cowan clarified again that properties can be volunteered to the non-designated list that council has the right to add properties to the non-designated list, and then a working group is going to work through the non-designated list and make sure it would even meet criteria to be designated.

“Should the working group want to designate that property, it would still go back to council to be designated heritage,” she added.

Click here to view the County’s DESIGNATED-PROPERTY-INDEX-March-2022

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  1. Gary says:

    It much comes down to who is going to pay! So many want to save other people’s property without a nickle invested.

  2. Angela says:

    And what about the Old Boys Memorial ticket booth and gate at the fairgrounds. It has been recognized for its significance but no one seems to care that it is near derelict now. Who decides which buildings deserve the attention? Why is a house at Sandbanks Park that once provided early tourist accommodations more worthy of preservation than the Old Boys ticket booth? Who picks the battles to fight? The Heritage group in the county has expressed zero interest in the ticket booth’s sorry state. But they beat the drums for a house at the Sandbanks where tourists once stayed. I would expect that what was and is in fact a county war memorial deserves more recognition.

  3. Paul D Cole says:

    I recommend that everyone re read Gilles comments again. We do have beautiful significant architecture in The County not just Picton that needs to be protected.

  4. Gilles Miramontes says:

    To clarify a few points: age alone does not qualify a building as significant (i.e. a building does NOT have to be one hundred years old…); rather its heritage significance is related to its architectural status (e.g. whether it is unique, or rare, or a prime example of a style, or the last of its kind, or one of a limited collection, etc.) and/or historical status (e.g its connection with historical events, or industries, or persons, etc); “listing” a building is not the same as “designating” a building under the Ontario Heritage Act, but it does afford it some additional measure of protection, against reckless demolition before its significance can be suitably appraised and recognized; far too many heritage buildings in Prince Edward County have been demolished without due diligence and process, without Heritage Impact Statements, and without ample public discussion. The wanton destruction of the County’s built AND natural heritage must stop — as must the narrow-mindedness of some politicians, or County staff, also cease. Case in point: the Washburn Building beside Shire Hall. (Just because it’s not in “The Settler’s Dream” does not disqualify it from heritage status.) Other cases: the four heritage buildings on Picton Main Street west of Washburn Street, leveled for a commercial development (which will likely never happen). Need we mention the Methodist Episcopal church, for which a demolition permit was also issued? It is time to be pro-active,rather than reactive, in safeguarding the heritage of Prince Edward County. Furthermore, we hope that the advice of the Heritage Advisory Committee will be respected and heeded from now on.

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