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They tore down the church on Sunday – timeline

Gas line break at church demolition site

NOV 15 – The first sign of trouble was the “rotten egg” smell in the air.

Police, fire and ambulance services were called to the scene of the Main Street Picton church demolition site Monday afternoon after the excavator driver hit the gas line that led to the former church. He told neighbours it was a surprise since his “boss had been told the line was already shut off at the street.”
Traffic was blocked from driving by the site while the gas leak was found and the pipe was pinched off to stop gas flow temporarily. A gas crew is expected to arrive Tuesday.

Debris remains in place

SEPT. 21 – Debris remains in place at the church site as demolition contractor Jim Sinclair clears up paperwork before he can haul the material away. A name change on his haulage company must be reflected on the provincial certificate. The debris is expected to be taken to the WSI transfer station north of Napanee.

Joe Feldman shares this amusing photograph taken by his niece Magali Toy, on Cty. Rd. 8 coming into Picton. The addition to the sign “wasn’t there for very long,” he adds.

BEFORE – Photo by Peggy deWitt.

The back wall of the old brick church came down smoothly, Friday morning. (Sept. 10). Sue Capon photos

Work to demolish the church tower got under way Thursday afternoon (Sept. 9) in a slow process that involves the crane bucket taking “bites” out of the bricks and wood. Traffic was re-routed around the site and passersby watched from the sidewalk at the Sobey’s Plaza.


Another stop-work order has been issued by the Ministry of Labour Friday, but details are not yet known.  Jim Sinclair of BGR Demolition was also unable to get his equipment working this morning.

Worker quits job fearing he would be buried alive

Zach Bormans quit his job yesterday – moments after he was almost buried alive in the rubble of the church being demolished on Main Street Picton.
“I quit after just about being buried alive,” Bormans said. “I think that’s pretty good incentive.”
Bormans said he was told to go inside the church tower to remove the remainder of the scrap from its highest point, using four-inch straps.
“There’s three levels going up,” he explained. “And in front of that window is where I was when it all started to come down and a huge plume of white dust, whatever, came in there so I tossed my shirt over my nose and started looking for somewhere to go.”
Bormans said he ended up coming out the front door of the church after the foreman and Ministry of Labour official had gone in to get him out.
He had only worked for demolition contractor Jim Sinclair for the past three or four weeks.
“He’s the one who told me to go up there to get rid of the scrap on top. He was doing (demolition) on the back half so he probably didn’t think it was going to get me, but took down the whole roof.”
The steeple on the 135-year-old church had been removed about 20 minutes earlier – but it took three attempts of hooking a chain on it to bring it down. Richard Karlo, of Karlo Estates Winery, had hoped he would be able to preserve some of the church’s history by putting the steeple at his winery – but it was crushed as it rolled down the roof and crashed to the ground.
It was just moments later when Sinclair continued to tear at the back wall of the church and the roof collapsed.  When the dust settled, he continued working.
Ministry of Labour Health and Safety Officer Don Chambers said Bormans was on his way down when he was running into the building to get him out.
In another incident, Sinclair’s dog was removed from the work site by Canine Control officers. The dog had been running freely on the site and was seen going into the church tower, retrieving debris and carrying around a Blackberry cell phone in his mouth. He was onsite when the church roof collapsed and took refuge in the Royal LePage office next door where he was given clean, cold water.
Prince Edward County chief building official Garry Davis said no stop work orders were issued and there were no comments on any charges.
Demolition will continue. Some of the debris from Wednesday’s work must be separated and cleared, and the roof needs to be removed from the rubble so that a layer of brick can be used as a platform for the excavator to reach the tower and east wall.

It took three attempts, but the steeple finally came down at about 12:55 p.m. At 1:20 p.m. the roof caved in.

The church steeple is being bashed from the inside. This photo was taken at about 10 a.m. A crane is in place and small crowds of people are gathering in the Sobey’s parking lot.

Wayne Craig, vineyard manager, and Richard Karlo, owner of Karlo Estates Winery, had hoped to preserve the church steeple. Sue Capon photos

Hope to save steeple dashed as it crashed to ground

Hopes to remove and save the steeple of the former Methodist Episcopal Church downtown Picton were dashed Saturday morning.
Richard Karlo, of Karlo Estates Winery, was on the scene with vineyard manager Wayne Craig while Morton’s Crane Rental was in position to assess the removal of the steeple.
The county’s chief building officer, Garry Davis, handed the crane operator a final order issued Saturday morning and told him “it must be followed according to the approved plans and specifications that are out there.”
Craig, after inspecting the steeple from the crane’s bucket, said he doubted it would come down in one piece.
“The structure was made there in place and the tin was put on afterwards. The structure is humungous – there’s beams up there, five threaded rods probably an inch and a half, and where the nuts are, they’re rusted and they will not move. My opinion is there is only one way to get it down and that’s pull it down, unless you were in there with a cutting torch and it’s dry in there. You would start having flames all over the place and you’re going to have a fire.”
A BGR company demolition worker examined the steeple from the inside, and poked a hole through using a crowbar. Though Jim Sinclair, demolition contractor, suggested using a hook and cable method, the crane operator said two baskets would be necessary to complete the job.
Karlo had wanted to preserve the steeple and a few of the church’s details at his winery.
“I was sad when I saw what was happening with this church and I was against it being torn down. It’s a beautiful piece of architecture in the middle of town and it deserves to be preserved as part of the heritage of Picton,” he said. “I was here today hoping we could save part of it to utilize at our place as a sort of tribute to the church and to save some of the history of the county, but, unfortunately, after taking a closer look at it, there’s no feasible way to get the steeple down and I guess we’re out of luck.”
Garry Davis said Sinclair and his engineer Mike Cook would be confirming plans with the Ministry of Labour engineer and that they might have to take it down by hand. He expects it would be Monday before they would be able to return to the site.

Bricks flew as the equipment started ripping at the former church Friday afternoon. – Bawn Putman photo

Work was ceased about an hour after demolition began.

The view from Suzanne Dick’s backyard.

AUG 27 – Demolition of the former Methodist Episcopal Church has been stopped again. The workers began tearing down the back portion of the building at approximately 4 p.m. It had been reported that one of the conditions of the work plan was that the steeple was the first thing that must be disconnected and removed. Work ceased just before 5 p.m. Garry Davis, Chief Building Official, stated that a stop work order had been issued.

A nervous Suzanne Dick watched as the machine tore at the structure closest to her house located on Ferguson Street. The Main Street was lined with onlookers and traffic slowed to see the action.

After the commotion, the town clock struck 5 p.m., the Picton United Church bell began to ring… and ring… and ring… until ending after the 6 p.m. chime.

* * *

Saturday’s impromptu meeting among the straw bales at Brian Marisett’s barn gave the group of concerned citizens a glimpse of a dream come true, but by Sunday, they realized the community must come forward with financial support to make the dream become a reality. Barry Silverthorn photo

AUG 27 –  All eyes are on the former Methodist Episcopal Church on Main Street Picton today as engineers have met all the stipulations and the stop worker orders have been lifted. One of the conditions of the work plan is that the steeple is the first thing that must be disconnected and removed.

Aug 25 – Garry Davis, PEC’s Chief Building and Bylaw Enforcement Officer, reports Ministry of Environment orders have not been satisfied as of Wednesday, but “It’s very close, providing their engineer comes forth with an acceptable alternative.”
Jim Sinclair, of BGR Demolition of Belleville, told County Council Monday night that he’s complied with all instructions and will consider taking legal action as he’s “losing money on the project. I still don’t have permission. If there needs to be a lawsuit, I’m prepared to go forward with that.”
Davis informed the church’s owners of the status of the review by County and MOE engineers. It is possible approvals could be gained by Friday.

* * *

Efforts to save the church between a ‘ROC’ and hard place

The partially demolished Methodist Episcopal Church was between the “ROC” and a hard place this weekend as concerned citizens held meetings to talk about how to save the church. An 11th hour attempt to finance the purchase is set for today.
“A coalition of concerned citizens has come together in a final effort to save the church,” said Darlene Thompson, executive director of the Recreation Outreach Committee (ROC). “In meetings over the weekend, we envisioned a new life for the grand old building as a youth centre in the downtown.”
A “too low” offer ($250,000) to purchase the building was turned down Sunday. The ROC board was told the owners are looking for an offer in the “high 400s”.
“We had an intense, deliberate and thoughtful meeting Saturday and took a leap of faith,” said ROC spokesman Michael Smith. “The offer represented as far as we could reach and we are not in a financial position to offer a counter offer of any substantial increase. We don’t want to compromise the ongoing mission of the ROC – providing for the youth. It was exciting to get a glimpse of the dream but we hope now that it will manifest in another way.”
“The Board of the Recreation Outreach Centre has expressed interest in a long-term lease of such a building,” said Thompson. “We have been told that what remains of the church is still viable and that it could be incorporated into a purpose-built facility.”
An engineered plan for demolition is expected to be submitted to the County’s planning department for review today (Monday, Aug. 23). Providing the plan is acceptable to both the Ministry of Labour and the County; and all necessary permits and approvals are in place, the owners and their contractor would be allowed to commence demolition.
Built in 1875 as a Methodist Episcopal Church, the building has been for sale for more than two years and after exhausting avenues for creating income, the owners applied for a demolition permit. Janina Justin (and mom Edith) bought the building in 2005 for $210,000. An attempt July 27 by the Prince Edward County Heritage Advisory Committee to have the building designated as ‘historically significant’ failed. Vaughan MPP Greg Sorbara, who owns land in the County, had made a $385,000 offer  before the demolition, but was declined.
“Emotions have been running high in the community over the impending demolition of the  historic ‘Brick Church’,” said Thompson. “The final demolition is expected to happen this week – unless we do something about it.
“The church is now in a state where something needs to be done immediately. The two options are to watch it be torn down and level the lot, or brace what remains and search for someone who can buy the property and work with interested partners to design a new building while incorporating what still remains. But time is running out.
“The questions for all concerned about the loss of this landmark are ‘Are we up to the challenge of saving what is left of it?’ Are we willing to approach the owners to try to work out a deal? Are we willing to find partners to help create something that we can look at and say, “We almost lost, but we brought it back”?
“We are looking for some people to come forward and buy the property, with the potential of a long-term relationship with the ROC. If you can help with this vision, please come to an emergency open forum at the ROC (33 Nery Avenue, Picton – on Macaulay Village) on Monday August 23rd, at 4 p.m.  If you want to help but can’t attend the meeting, please email or call 613- 968-0802.

Barry Silverthorn photo

Engineers for the church’s owner/contractor, and the County of Prince Edward; officials from the Ministry of Labour and County of Prince Edward, and the contractor met on site Wednesday afternoon. The Contractors’ engineer, Mike Cook, said an engineered plan for demolition would be submitted to the County’s planning department for review by Monday, Aug. 23.

Unsafe Order                 Click to view.

“Providing the plan is acceptable to both the Ministry of Labour and the County; and all necessary permits and approvals are in place, the owners and their contractor would be allowed to commence demolition,” said Garry Davis, Chief Building and Bylaw Enforcement Officer.

The County’s planning services department issued an unsafe order Aug. 13 to owner Janina Justin. Click photo to view.

Photo Steven Draper

AUG 12 –

Rita Di Ghent – Barry Silverthorn photo

Rita Di Ghent shares this audio link for her new song, generously recorded by Brent Bodrug in his studio in Trenton. Yes–recorded in a church. “They Tore Down the Church on Sunday” words and music: Rita di Ghent
Recorded at Slyfichapel, Trenton
Engineered by Brent Bodrug
Click link to hear the song: TheyToreDownTheChurchOnSunday

AUG 11 – Demolition of the church will not continue until BGR Demolition complies with Ministry of Labour orders and the County removes the stop work order issued Sunday. Garry Davis, the County’s Chief Building Officer said discussions are still under way. There will be no demolition of the church this week.
The Ministry of Environment was also at the site this morning.

AUG 9 – Demolition of the historical “Brick Church” downtown Picton that began Sunday morning has been stopped.
Garry Davis, Chief Building Official, said Monday the County is concerned about safety issues and getting proper permits in place. He wants an action plan including who and how and when everybody will follow the rules.
“I received a call just before noon yesterday that the demolition was proceeding and there was concern that it was proceeding without having all of the permits in place,” Davis said. “The owners and BGR (Jim Sinclair, demolition contractor of record) had actually taken out a demolition permit with my office which allows for the demolition of the church, but there are additional permits that are required such as for sidewalks and roads as well as proper fencing and hoarding required to be done for the public safety.”
Hoarding, Davis said, is term to describe more elaborate fencing than snow fencing (like what is set up at Shoppers Drug Mart site), that protects both the site from being entered and also allows for the debris to be stopped before it gets to the public areas.
“We have an engineer that is representing the County. They have an engineer and both have agreed that the sidewalk is off limits and they need a pedestrian way out at least on the street for now. We’ll be looking at a partial, if not a full lane closure in front of this building right through to the Tim Horton’s lights.”
Davis said the owners the County will be meeting with the owners at the site to determine how they will proceed.
Davis said fines and charges will be looked at “once the site is safe and there is no danger to anyone. After that, then we will review our system.”
In 2008, James Sinclair, president and director of Thermosets Limited, and Demolition and Recycling Inc. of Belleville were fined $659,000 plus victim fine surcharges, for violating the Ontario Water Resources Act. Sinclair was also sentenced to four months in jail.
The Dundas Street location is also the site of the former Bakelite manufacturing plant that produced resins and formaldehyde. Manufacturing at this location ceased in 1992.
Following investigations by the Ministry of the Environment’s Investigations and Enforcement Branch, in February, 2008 the defendants were convicted of various violations under the Ontario Water Resources Act. These violations related to excavations and discharges from the site, including the discharge of PCB contaminated sediments and failure to comply with Orders issued under the Act to remediate the site and clean-up the discharged sediment.
On December 2, 2008, Mr. Sinclair was fined a total of $71,000, Thermosets Limited was fined a total of $291,500 and Demolition and Recycling Inc. was fined a total of $296,500. All fines were exclusive of the victim fine surcharges.
Built in 1875 as a Methodist Episcopal Church, the building has been for sale for more than two years and after exhausting avenues for creating income, the owners applied for the demolition permit. An eleventh-hour attempt July 27 by the Prince Edward County Heritage Advisory Committee to have the building designated as historically significant failed. Senior Planner Ryan Leary said that although the Ontario Heritage Act does allow for a building to be designated heritage without the owner’s permission, “It has not been the habit of this municipality to do so.”

Sunday’s demolition scared and surprise backyard neighbour

Suzanne Dick lives right behind the church on Ferguson Street in the former carriage factory – the old Picton Carriage Works (circa 1873). Sunday morning’s demolition work surprised, and scared her.
“It was quite a shock Sunday morning. I’m in my garden and I hear a huge, don’t even know how to describe the sound… explosion, crashing, and what I thought was smoke just came billowing out of the windows that are open, just billowing into the back yard. It was choking. Huge dust cloud. I was really scared,” she said. “I knew it was being demolished- it’s a shame but they approved it so it’s happening – but the last thing I expected is that to happen on a Sunday morning. I quickly ran inside and went out onto Main Street and lo and behold they had started knocking out the west wall.”
“My concern is how stable is the building? I am so close to the building. Will it collapse and will it collapse on me during the night. In my building (three apartments) it was a real concern. Last night was very, very tense. I think I finally fell asleep at 2:30 or 3 in the morning because I had heard noises from the building shifting, pieces dropping… when I finally did go to sleep, I went to the furthest part of the building from the church just in case something did happen and collapse… hopefully my stone walls that are 21 inches thick would offer me some protection. But now that the municipal and the provincial government have stepped in, I have to trust that a proper demolition, a reputable, well-known demolition company will come in and finish the job. I did see the people there first thing this morning and spoke to them. They assured me that my building, for now, is safe.”

AUG 10: Aurora’s Church Street School built in 1885 was saved from the wrecker’s ball and is now the community’s cultural centre. Read the story in Donald McClure’s blog

Brian Bondy photo

AUG 8:

Photo and blog by Stephen Draper,
“Special Photo’s are often ones which can never be achieved again. Lighting, subject, circumstance all coming together for a brief moment in time” [SD]

At 5 minutes to 6pm on 7th August 2010, with the Polepics aerial camera focused on a modest congregation outside the Penticostal Church in Picton and ominous clouds swirling around the Gothic Revial steeple,  these factors aligned under the sadness that this building may quiet literally not be here tomorrow and that these may quite literally be the last photographs of this landmark.

The proposed demolition, announced just a few days ago, has become a hot topic within the community.

The night before the hurriedly organized shoot I sent a Facebook invite out requesting a congregation to be part of the photo – to show the future that some of us in the past DID care.

* * *

JULY 28 UPDATE: A Picton landmark church is coming down. A proposal before Prince Edward County Council to designate the former Methodist Episcopal Church on Main St. (across from Sobey’s) as a heritage site has failed. The proposal was made after the current owners had applied to the county for a permit to demolish the building.
“The building is at the end of its current life.” said Tony Fleming, lawyer for the owners. “If the county wants to designate the building they should purchase it.”
Senior Planner Ryan Leary said that although the Ontario Heritage Act does allow for a building to be designated as a heritage property without the owner’s permission, “It has not been the habit of this municipality to do so.”
“The heritage committee people didn’t even knock on our door,” said Janina Justin, daughter, and owner with Edith Justin. “We have fixed the steeple three times and it still leaks.”
The council asked it would be possible to preserve a part of the building as an option.
“You can take it all,” said Janina Justin.
Councillor Ray Best requested a recorded vote on the motion. Four were in favour of delaying the demolition: Sandy Latchford, John Thompson, Monica Alyea and Mayor Leo Finnegan. Against the motion were Peggy Burris, Peter Mertens, Laverne Bailey, Bev Campbell, Kevin Gale, Dianne O’Brien, Barry Turpin and Ray Best. Brian Marisett, Richard Parks and Keith MacDonald were absent. Lori Slik disclosed pecuinary interest.

* * *

JULY: Discussion of the fate of the old Methodist Church on Main Street Picton, will come before council today as the County’s building department has received an application from the owner to demolish the 1875 structure (across the street from the Sobey’s plaza). The building department has 20 days to respond.
The brick church, as it was known, was used by the Methodist Episcopal congregation, until formation of the United Church in 1925 at which time the building was sold to the Pentacostal Church. The tower and spire were remodelled in the 1950s and the church itself was eventually deconsecrated and sold to private owners around 2002.  It has operated
as Vendor’s Market for the last few years.
The Prince Edward Heritage Advisory Committee (PEHAC) convened a special meeting to recommendation to Prince Edward County council that the church be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
The church’s design is an excellent representative example of a 19th century gothic revival church. The property has historical and associative value because it has direct associations with the religious history of Prince Edward County and the development of Methodism and the spread of Pentacostal beliefs in the County. In addition, this property has the potential to yield information that contributes to an understanding of the development of both the United Church and the Pentacostal Church.
This property has historical and associative value because it has direct associations with the religious history of Prince Edward County and the development of Methodism and
the spread of Pentacostal beliefs in the County. In addition, this property has the potential to yield information that contributes to an understanding of the development of both the United Church of Canada and the Pentacostal Church.
The property has contextual value because it is important in defining, maintaining and supporting the character of this portion of Main Street in Picton. It is also visually and historically linked to the nearby Picton United Church with whose congregation the M.E. Church united in 1925 as part of the United Church of Canada.
The massive brick church with its imposing steeple and tall spire give this property important contextual value as a landmark in the town of Picton.

County Council will tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Athol Township Hall to consider the recommendation from the Heritage Advisory Committee. The Planning Act, 1996, requires the County Council to acknowledge the provincial interest in “the conservation of features of significant architectural, cultural, historical, archaeological or scientific interest”.
If the motion is accepted the owner has the right to appeal the decision.

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  1. Milé Murtanovski says:

    Jim Sinclair remains in the news:

    Unfortunately, he should have remained in jail.

  2. Chris Keen says:

    It boggles the mind that this so-called demolition company was allowed to continue to work on this site. We’re lucky that half the town wasn’t flattened.

  3. Loretta Tweed says:

    I just thought it was sad to see it gone.
    It was part of Picton, unique to it.
    I feel it is a terrible shame, a waste.
    Weren’t they still using it?
    A landmark, heritage building.
    They did it on a Sunday from what I have read and that seems so wrong.
    It’s still shocking to me that it is gone.
    I live in Trenton and we have had it happen here building torn down ALL in the name of progress.
    I don’t quite see it that way.

  4. Doris says:

    The whole election here in PIcton centered around the Heritage issue because the present council did not have the interest to vote for the motion ‘OF INTENT TO DESIGNATE” THAT would have given 30 days for cooler heads to revail and might have served to retain the brick church
    Now people are wanting to designate the town core as a heritage district.
    Go to Barriefield Village and see what a true heritage district looks like.
    I agree with Terresa that certain buildings should be designated heritage and the Downes building should have some interest taken in it to preserve it.
    they are working to preserve Al Purtys house in ameliasburgh. Maybe there should be group working to do the same to the Downes building

  5. kathy says:

    i htink this church being brought down is just sicking,it should have been left a lone.its old and its part of picton,what the hell were these people thinking tearing it down.what are you trying to do make picton go away forever

  6. MARC says:


    In a recent issue of the Wellington Times, there was a report on a candidate survey conducted by the Concerned Citizens of PEC which included the following question regarding Heritage:

    “Should Council have the authority to declare private property as “Heritage” with all its protections, without approval from the property owners?”

    Please be aware that the Ontario Heritage Act already provides municipalities with the authority to designate properties without the approval of property owners as long as property owners are duly notified. This is being done in other municipalities when the building is considered to be sufficiently important to the cultural heritage of their community.

    The PEC Heritage Advisory Committee always seeks the agreement of the owners before recommending designaton of their property to Council. However, in the recent case of Picton’s “Red Brick Church”, this building was considered by the Heritage Advisory Committee as being of such significance to the history and cultural heritage of Picton and the County that we recommended to Council that it be designated as a heritage building to ensure its preservation, without the owners approval, and in accordance with the Ontario Heritage Act.

    I hope this helps to clarify any misunderstandings that there may be regarding this issue.

    Marc Seguin
    Chair, Prince Edward Heritage Advisory Committee

  7. 'ZigZag' Trigg says:

    Glad to see you are running for council Doris – I think you’d do a terrific job! Don’t know anyone else who can cut to the chase as quickly as you and with your past experience with so many different organizations in Picton and elsewhere, you bring to the table a sense of connectivity to our history, culture as well as a no-nonsense business approach to things. Only problem is that since I don’t live in Picton, I cant vote for you.

    Why is it that someone who lives in another ward can run in Picton, but I can only vote for someone running in my ward? (mayor, excepted)

    Let’s all vote to revise the structure of our council. It’s on the ballot on Oct 25th.

  8. Moose says:

    I’m more concerned about the contaminated soil in the shoppers drug mart lot. It would be nice if it would finally get cleaned.

  9. Doris Lane says:

    Since the motion to designate the Church on Main Street as a historical cite was a motion which was supplied by a committee that you sit on, I would have thought that being at council was more important than receiving an order at your farm. Surely someone else could have received the organic order. Only you could vote for the motion at council

    Since I moved to Picton last year and am now a resident of The Town of PIcton I decided to let my name stand to give the rate payers an alternative to the last several years of government that has seen a huge debt and many unnecessary expenditures
    My slogan “Time for a LANE change”

  10. Brian Marisett says:

    It is unfortunate that it took the tragic demolition of Picton’s historic “red brick church” to bring public attention to the “development without regard for heritage” trend that I have strongly opposed during my seven years on Council. We cannot undo the past but we must find ways to help ensure this type of situation does not happen again in the future. I can honestly say that my record with regard to heritage preservation in the County has been solid and unwavering during my seven years on Council – the past four years of which I have served as Council representative on the Heritage Advisory Committee. Unfortunately, I had to leave the Council meeting prior to the vote on the designation of the church because I had a scheduled farm produce delivery at 10 pm that evening with Quinte Organics in Belleville. As you can see by the recorded vote results, my vote which would have been in support of designation of the church property to ensure its preservation, would not have changed the decision of Council. As those who follow Council closely would know, my record on Council regarding heritage protection includes not supporting the demolition of buildings adjacent to Shire Hall, supporting a deferral of the Shopper’s Drug Mart project to address heritage issues, and working with the ROC to try to find a last minute solution to saving the Methodist church. Please rest assured that I am firmly committed to my campaign slogan “Embracing our past to enhance our future.”
    Brian Marisett

  11. Doris Lane says:

    Brian Marisett decided not to run in Athol now he is running in Picton.
    Note that his email address is <
    Now Mr Marisett was not present for the vote on the demolition so how does this make him a candidate who is protecting our heritage??????

  12. Mila Lipovskaya says:

    It is the simple vandalism

  13. John Redmond says:

    They have done the disgraceful deed. The majority of current Prince Edward County councilors failed grossly in their duty to protect Prince Edward County’s Canadian Heritage.

    Councilors sanctioned, and are responsible for, the destruction of the lovely heritage of Picton’s Main Street.

    . . . Shame on Them! . . . Shame on Them! . . .

    This 135+ year old heritage building was located on Main Street, Picton, Ontario just steps away from a Picton war memorial. It has come down in dust against the thoughtful recommendations of the County’s own Heritage Advisory Committee, against the values publicly stated on the County’s own website and against what appears to be the well spring of public opinion.

    From the Prince Edward County website;
    Council who opposed heritage designation
    or even allowing time to reflect further upon the matter:

    BEST, Ray
    BURRIS, Peggy
    GALE, Kevin
    MERTENS, Peter
    O’BRIEN, Dianne
    TURPIN, Barry
    BAILEY, Laverne

    In favour of heritage designation,Prince Edward County’s published values and public opinion on preserving Picton heritage on Main St.)

    THOMPSON, John
    ALYEA, Monica
    FINNEGAN, Mayor Leo P

    Did not vote;
    SLIK, Lori – Disclosed Interest
    PARKS, Richard – Absent
    MARISETT, Brian – Absent
    MACDONALD, Keith – Absent

    Council acted unwisely and shamefully.

    John Redmond

  14. Linda Middleton says:


  15. John Redmond says:

    What PEC Council did to Main St. Picton heritage does not jive with what the county posts on its website.

    This is some of what the county website posts mentioning Main Street, Picton heritage in particular. Current council has destroyed that heritage value.

    “Prince Edward County continues to evolve as a cultural landscape.
    • Heritage conservation and education continues to be important.
    • We are building on all the assets of the past ( Little Bluff; Sandbanks; heritage barns; rural vistas; heritage homes; water vistas)
    • And our respect for our history is celebrated as the future unfolds (agricultural fair; museums; modern plays; Sandbanks beach; fishing derbies; main streets of Picton and Bloomfield; Cenotaph)”

    Main St., heritage is coming down in dust due to the current council’s vote not to protect a 135+ year old church, erected a handful of years after Confederation, on Main St. Picton. On the the county’s own website the significance of the heritage is fully acknowledged

    “Social Centres
    Schools and churches became the social hubs of the communities, which were small in area due to the nature of transportation of the day (horse and buggy). A lasting tribute to these times is the historic Bethesda United Church and its “drive sheds”.”

    The Council vote was contrary to the PEC’s published values.
    Council voted to not even pause for further, thoughtful consideration of the matter.

    Council would, by Ontario provincial heritage guidelines, have been perfectly correct to designate the church on Main St. Picton as a heritage building.

    From the Prince Edward County website;
    Council who opposed heritage designation
    or even allowing time to reflect further upon the matter:
    BEST, Ray
    BURRIS, Peggy
    GALE, Kevin
    MERTENS, Peter
    O’BRIEN, Dianne
    TURPIN, Barry
    BAILEY, Laverne

    In Favour of heritage designation
    (and public opinion on preserving Picton heritage on Main St.)
    THOMPSON, John
    ALYEA, Monica
    FINNEGAN, Mayor Leo P

    Did not vote; SLIK, Lori – Disclosed Interest
    PARKS, Richard – Absent
    MARISETT, Brian – Absent
    MACDONALD, Keith – Absent

    Council acted unwisely and against what appears to be the well spring of community opinion.

    John Redmond

  16. Mila Lipovskaya says:

    Stalin destroyed thousands of churches in my country(Russia). He destroyed the souls of people together with the churches. The destruction of churches is a very dangerous act for future generations.
    Sincereli, Mila

  17. Richard Parks says:

    I understand that the steeple will be brought down
    Saturday, by a third party contractor, under a work order issued by The County.

  18. Karen Smith says:

    Sandy and Monica seem to make their choices on how they vote in counsel based on their inherent honesty, and their love and caring for The County and its people.
    I certainly hope one of the two of them becomes our next mayor so that their common sense and clear-headedness can help guide the more ‘political’ ones in counsel.
    This is a disturbing issue for most County folks but one which will now just have to be accepted.
    It will be scary driving past the demolition site on the south side of Picton’s Main Street. Might end up wearing a giant dunce-cap on the roof of my car, or on the handle-bars of my new Honda scooter. Maybe I will just avoid it for a while.

  19. John Smith says:

    Tear the bugger down. The fact that it’s old, and that it’s a church does not automatically render it a “landmark”. It’s just a really old building. And truth be told, the County could use a few less churches. Let’s not forget how long this property has been on the market. Nobody was interested until news of the demolition got out.

    In these tough economic times, it’s worth noting that churches don’t pay taxes. Anything put in its’ place would, even if it remains a vacant lot. Despite questionable dealings and decisions made by Council, you must admit – if Picton is to make the massive required investments in infrastructure, the tax base must be expanded.

    I must admit delight in this news. I would only be happier to see the thing burn to the ground. If anyone knew a little of the church’s history, they’d agree.

  20. Dee says:

    Lets put all of this into perspective. If any of us had a will to ensure the preservation of the church then it could have been done during the past year or so that the church has been up for sale.

    We are very complacent in our actions, only reacting to the demolition of the church, rather than taking a proactive stance when it was available for purchase.

    Granted the domolition application came as a surprise to most of us, but surely there were people in the know that could have let the community know this was going to happen. It cannot be municipal staff as they are bound by the privacy act, but even the owner could have let it be known if there is no buyer then she would be demolishing.

    Try to understand as well, an owner of a property does have a right to try and sell their property and if the property is more saleable as vacant land, then it is their perogative to make the changes. Insensitivity to what type and age of building is the significant point here.

    Perhaps we can learn from this. If we want to preserve our heritage, our buildings,our 100-200 year old trees perhaps we should be making a list now, and looking into community involvement in raising the monies to purchase them through a community foundation.

    It is so easy to blame council, to blame the owner, but we all share in the responsibility. Everyone of us.

    It is human nature to call foul when we realize we are about to lose something. It is also human nature to be self absorbed and not really pay much attention to the writing on the wall.

    Perhaps community members can offer to buy bricks from the torn down wall of the building to raise money for the ROC to purchase it.

    I for one would buy a skid. At least I would know, whatever the outcome, that part of my grandmother’s church is still in the county and being respectfully used on something that will remain in the County.

    I wish the ROC the best of luck in finding backers, and pray for a positive outcome.

  21. Barry says:

    Two weeks ago, the County had an opportunity to make a decision about the fate of the church. Some argue that we all were responsible for dropping the ball. Had people – including members of council – known what the outcome would be, they might have acted differently.

    The church is now in a state where something needs to be done with it immediately. Two options are to tear it down and level the lot, or brace it and search for someone who can buy the property and then fund and design a new building while integrating the remaining three walls.

    Unfortunately, the latter would be difficult now. The legal issues alone preclude it. Then again, tearing it down may be a difficult venture. Given that the owners and the demolition contractor are now mired in potential fines, environmental tests, and enormous engineer’s costs (which will no doubt have to be paid upfront, given their predicament), it is possible that it may be some time before they have the resources to allow them to be given the go-ahead to resume demolition. What happens if that is the case? How long can the building remain in its present state? Will the County have to move in through court proceedings to take over the property to remove the building before winter? The County may have to finish the job and bill the owners. If the owners are unable to pay the costs, the County may end up owning the property; ironically, something that council would have flatly refused to consider three weeks ago.

    The events of the past week have forever changed the future of the County. I suspect that we are about to be offered a chance to make another decision about the building. Are we up to the challenge of saving what is left of it? Are we willing to approach the owners now and try to work out a deal? Are we willing to work hard to find partners to help create something that will can look at and say, “We almost screwed that up, but we brought it back”?

    Are we willing to say we made a mistake? Can we redeem ourselves?

  22. Marilynn Minaker says:

    Is there ANYTHING we can do, at this point, to preserve our heritage building???? We should remember well at election time, those who voted for it to be demolished.
    Councillor Ray Best requested a recorded vote on the motion


    I truly wonder how it would be possible for these aspiring leaders to be so out of touch with the will of the people they are claiming to be able to represent. What was their motivation to support the destruction of our beautiful brick church???

    Hopefully they have just removed themselves from being trusted with the future of our community by their actions.


    If these three men had showed up and supported the will and interests of the County and Lori Silk wasn’t financially involved and had supported saving part of our heritage, the vote would have been a draw!!!!!

    Those who TRIED TO HALT THE DEMOLITION were these four: What only FOUR who care about our history and roots!!!! SHAME….

    REMEMBER THEIR NAMES COME ELECTION TIME!!!! They know the will of the people.
    These are the guys wearing the white cowboy hats!!!


  23. Annie says:

    I didn’t hear anybody offering the half a million dollars to pay for the building before. Nobody has the right to complain or say what a travesty this is. Yes how the building came down was not right, and it is a shame that this old church is being demolished, but the community didn’t seem to care until they saw the hole in that wall.
    Without community support things like this will keep happening, it doesn’t matter how many songs you write, videos you make, or letters you send, until people are willing to either donate, or pay for it themselves, not a single person has the right to complain.

  24. Rosemary says:

    The insensitivity, ignorance, and disrespect – there are not enough adjectives to adequately express my shock with which the owners and demolition contractor violently terminated the life of a 100+ year building on Picton Main Street. Buildings have memories and energy, especially a former house of worship, but apart from that, why wouldn’t the owner hire a reputable demolition contractor who would carefully dismantle and salvage materials of architectural value, such as bricks, millwork, windows? The contractor could not have been shadier and was obviously cheap, probably uninsured. We can’t fine the owners and contractor for insensitivity and poor taste, but they can be fined for disregard of public safety. I hope that the Ministry of Labour and the Municipality levy the maximum allowable fines.

  25. We may have to endure the destruction of this beautiful piece of County architecture. However, the John Pepper Downes house on Walton Street (formerly Downes Avenue, behind the Bank of Montreal) is listed for sale as a commercial property. JP Downes’ contribution to The County’s history is an important one and the community should now be pushing for a heritage designation of that residence.

    Saving The County’s architectural heritage one building at a time.

  26. David Pottinger says:

    I watched the demolition – what a Joke! No proper fence – just orange plastic snow fence stapled to a bunch of wooden posts. IN fact I walked by on Sat and tripped over the poorly built & placed fence. Could have sued I’m sure if I had hurt myself. The machine was much too small for the task and there was no consideration of the utility poles and wires on the same side of the street. (I’m in the hydro/insurance business) And the constant flow of traffic – Yikes – It was a good thing the demolition was halted. No cops or traffic control I could just see 1 single solitary brick getting away from the worker and smashing into a fancy SUV… How about that!! There was also a guy video taping it. Should review his tapes – DP

  27. Marc says:

    Many of the “big shots” from the “big city” come out here largely because they appreciate the heritage buildings that are found in Picton and throughout the County. Many of these “imports” even purchase these heritage buildings and spend thousands of dollars restoring them and preserving them. The bottom line is that County Council had the opportunity to delay or prevent the demolition of this heritage building. The majority of council members chose to ignore the recommendations of its own staff, disregard the advice of its Heritage Advisory Committee, and voted to NOT proceed with the heritage designation thus ensuring that the church would be demolished.

  28. Heather says:

    I think it is terrible that they demolished this church. There are too many big shots moving here from the The big Cities and taking over our town and saying what is to be saved and what is to be destroyed.I myself would like to see the history of this town and not all these big new buildings going up all around us.Pretty soon all the local people that have lived here all or most of their lives will have to move out of here because it is to expansive to live here.

  29. H. Campbell says:

    Whoever had it in them to vote to demolish a significant historical building is acting not in the interests of the County or its people. Who elects people like that to represent them, and why?
    Lots of questions in the air. What kind of Picton is in our future? Council & the County apparently did not spend enough time on finding a solution to avoid this atrocity. With some imaginative thought & fundraising, this building could have been a wonderful central feature on Main St. for Arts and Culture – an investment that would pay for itself, besides the fact that tourists would be drawn by its charm for many years to come.
    We already have an eyesore called “Shoppers Drug Mart lot” to greet visitors on Main Street. Those responsible for this are demolishing their own future and ours.

  30. Oneta Wager says:

    I have to admit I was in complete shock when I found out that this beautiful church’s side was removed on Sunday, August 8, 2010. Picton is known for its historical features and like it was stated in the You Tube video it is a landmark for tourists. From its steeple that stands so proudly, to the large steps leading to the front door, its beautiful stain glass windows, the circular balcony, it is a beautiful church and surpasses some of the more modern churches being built. I was dedicated in that church and attended there with my parents as a little girl. My dad started attending that church back in the 1960’s. It was a place of praise and worship, a place where hurting souls could come and all was welcome. Many prayer meetings and revivals were held there. Many lives were changed in that building. It holds memories for so many different people. My heart aches as I look at the picture of the side completed removed. It is like a wounded person with their insides hanging out. I have to completely agree with Caleb Hutton when he stated what if we don’t want change. If a young gentleman of 21 years of age can appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of Picton, where is the others who have lived their whole lives here and have memories of this small, quaint town and treasure what historical Picton has. I don’t live in the county anymore but when I do come, which is quite often, and I drive downtown Picton, I pass this church and I smile. Now that smile will be replaced with hurt as there will be nothing there. Can you imagine, Picton has a church built in 1875, and we have just disregarded it like it is nothing.

  31. Chris Keen says:

    It’s a shame to see the “us against them(imports)” nonsense rearing it’s ugly head again. The church was deconsecrated by the congregation (locals) – not imports. It was up for sale for a considerable time and could have been purchased by any local – it wasn’t. The marketplace that subsequently opened obviously made no financial sense because it was not supported enough by locals and imports and closed. Picton’s own Councillor Bailey (a local) apparently voted against delaying demolition. There’s more than enough blame to go around. Now it’s time to make sure the building is demolished safely and that charges are laid promptly if any bylaws were violated.

    As an aside, one of the vans parked in front of the site today had a sticker on its back door that said “Jesus is with me.” Given the insane way this demolition was begun, and the fact that it didn’t turn into a catastrophe – maybe He was.

  32. Richard Parks says:

    I was out of town on July 27 and unable to get back in time for the Council meeting. I would have voted with Latchford, Alyea,Thompson and Finnegan to explore all options before demolition. I am not being a political opportunist here, but simply stating my view and how I had intended to vote on the motion to delay demolition.
    Richard Parks

  33. Caleb Hutton says:

    Its such a shame seeing our so called “county” falling apart…I’m only 21 years old and in the past 5 years I can say ALOT has changed. Its sad to see our heritage slowly fading away.. whats next… The ROYAL or THE REGENT.. The HEPBURN HOUSE? Like my dad said the old Rickerton Hotel was demolished on a Sunday also and its from “undesirables” wanting a “CHANGE”. What if we don’t want a change? I’m just disgusted with the changes around here. Before you know it, downtown Picton will be so commercialized and will be only in the interest for the IMPORTS…

  34. John Hutton says:

    The County is being destroyed one brick at a time,case in point the Old Church on Main Street.
    Whom in their vast wisdom OK’d this ? Its unfortunate but We in the County is losing the Battle and our council members are to busy doing wine tours and ribbon cutting as well as trying to do what is CHIC or in Vogue this month.
    I,m PO’d and this is unacceptable,it happened to The Rickerton Hotel on a Sunday as well.
    Now that the integrity of the building has been compromised I suppose we will be stuck with a strip mall in there at a very busy intersection.
    I feel that we need some local people running for council that can actually use common sense and look at the good of the Region instead of the good of a few wealthy people from out of the REGION . I,m PO’d.
    John Hutton

  35. Administrator says:

    Thanks, Ryan for your eagle eye. Changes made.

  36. Ryan Leary says:

    Just a minor correction from above: the recorded vote was -Latchford, Thompson, Alyea and the Mayor for delaying demolitiion;
    -Burris, Mertens, Bailey, Campbell, Gale, O’Brien, Turpin, & Best against motion;
    -Marisett, Parks & MacDonald were absent;
    -Slik declared an interst.

  37. Michael Reason says:

    Although a Picton resident I am currently in England and have followed this debacle through my Facebook contacts. It’s my opinion that our elected councillors are really the ones who must shoulder the blame for this abomination. Yet again the preservation of our heritage is of no concern to our council. I love living in the county but this kind of irresponsible decision making leaves a very sour taste in my mouth. And then to cap it all demolition cowboys swing in to action without due paperwork, safety considerations and apparently no idea how to actually demolish a building. Shame on everyone involved.

  38. Cindy Cole says:

    This is just ridiculous – depressing and unsafe. It reeks of greed and they picked the most horrible way to do this. I can’t believe that the construction crews were allowed to do this with no safety in place whatsoever – this is in the middle of the town – across from McDonald’s for goodness sake! It’s also disturbing there is no reclaim effort for the building materials – spire, windows, brick, etc? They should have contacted Habitat for Humanity to assist in this effort considering they didn’t want to even think about saving the building at all. This will be another sad, burnt out hole in the middle of Picton. No accounting for taste whatsoever – the owners of this church must not be from Prince Edward County. They are definitely showing their selfish lack of caring for the people and the environment of Picton. Very sad – another historical monument demolished. It would have made a beautiful farmers market, antique store, recreation center, or CHURCH for a new congregation. It doesn’t seem like there was much thought put into this.

  39. Pat Larkin says:

    Not only is the ripping down of this Church a disgrace, but it was highly unsafe and still is. The contractor needs their heads examined. You take down large buildings from the top not the bottom and if they knew anything they wouldn’t have started on the west wall where our prevailing wind comes from. I hope there is no big gusts tonight, otherwise all of downtown Picton will be picking up the pieces of this historic building in the morning.

  40. Mary says:

    Thts so sad

  41. This doesn’t look like a professional demolition: Where’s the safety fence? Where’s the cop? Why on a Sunday? WTF?

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