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New community group launches campaign to save heritage Sandbanks homes

A new community group has launched a website  as part of a campaign to find innovative ideas to preserve and repurpose the heritage Hyatt (Lakeview Lodge) and MacDonald (Lakeland Lodge) homes at Sandbanks Provincial Park.

The campaign opens with a survey intended to gather data indicating the public’s level of support.

A new community working group, Save Heritage Sandbanks Homes (SHSH), has just eight weeks to rally support to demonstrate the community’s desire to save these heritage structures.

During a judicial review process this spring, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks undertook not to demolish the houses until the court rendered its decision. Documents released by the Ministry as part of the judicial review confirmed that no demolition will happen in the period March 31–Sept. 1 to protect affected species of nesting birds and roosting bats and also to avoid the busy summer season for the park.

The Hyatt House, (left) and MacDonald houses in Feb. 2021

“The group believes the repurposing of the homes (lodges) for a combination of uses, such as information/educational centre, general store for local and indigenous products, farm market, accommodation, and higher-end culinary venue or pop-up would economically and experientially benefit not only the park but the County as well,” state SHSH members in a media release. “The collaboration of the community and Ontario Parks to preserve the Cultural Heritage embodied in the Hyatt and MacDonald houses would be a significant accomplishment.”

The properties are the last two remaining homes in the Sandbanks area that represent the birth of the tourism industry in Prince Edward County. Located on West Point, Lakeshore Lodge, Lakeview Lodge, Lakeland Lodge and the Evergreen were destinations for international visitors from North America and Europe, setting a standard for experiential tourism in the County.

The Hyatt and MacDonald homes were also the birthplace of entrepreneurial initiatives that contributed greatly to the development of the agriculture, marine, import/export, hospitality, and arts sectors – businesses such as canning factories, commercial fisheries, commercial wharfs to receive international goods and export county product, and culinary enterprises such as catering and restaurants.

The South Shore’s West Point/Sandbanks area is also significant for its pre-settlement cultural heritage with archaeological finds such as pottery, spear and arrowheads, fishing weir, ash beds, potential fishing villages and indigenous remains being discovered from the early 19th century onward. Archaeologists’ reports all indicate “the region warrants further investigation.”

“The repurposing of the heritage houses also presents opportunities for engagement with Indigenous communities in recognition of the area’s pre-settlement history,” SHSH states.

Since Ontario Parks initiated the process to demolish the historic buildings in 2017, the Hyatt and MacDonald houses have escaped demolition three times because of community engagement: in March 2020, after the Prince Edward Heritage Advisory Committee and mayor and council raised concerns in response to the announcement on the Environmental Registry that Ontario Parks intended to amend the Park Management Plan to allow for demolition; in Fall 2020, after Philip Evans of ERA Architects brought forward an alternative development proposal for the Ontario Parks’ consideration; and in March 2021, after a motion was filed for a stay of demolition and subsequently an application for a judicial review.

“When the government indicated no demolition would occur before Sept. 1, 2021 due to bird and bat nesting, the application was withdrawn. Save Heritage Sandbanks Homes hopes their campaign’s website will successfully act as a communication hub to raise awareness of the value of the Hyatt and MacDonald houses and to connect all the parties – the public, the private and not-for-profit sectors, and government leaders – in the support and development of partnerships to repurpose the buildings.”

For more information contact: saveheritagesandbankshomes@gmail.com
Visit the website at http://saveheritagesandbankshomes.com to complete the survey.

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  1. Dee says:

    Good read. I filled the survey and it only took a couple of minutes. I like when we are given an opportunity to express our opinions like in this survey, knowing there are metrics at the end. Encourage participation

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