Heritage status debated

Davin School, built in 1929, is on the city's heritage holding bylaw list.

Davin School, built in 1929, is on the city’s heritage holding bylaw list, a good place to start for seeking provincial heritage status.

Connaught was centre stage at last night’s school board meeting, after trustee Aleana Young once again put forward her recommendation to NOT pursue heritage status for Regina’s oldest public school. Trustees Carla Beck and Kathleen O’Reilly spoke in favour of heritage designation, arguing it would cost the board nothing, while buying community good will and opening up new partnership opportunities for school renewal.

Beck suggested that due to provincial funding uncertainties for a new build, it wouldn’t hurt to explore all avenues to ensure a school remains in the community. In response, trustee Dale West said a decision not to renovate was already made, board chair Katherine Gagne said the board wasn’t elected to protect heritage, and Young argued designation was pointless. As expected, the vote was 5 to 2 against Connaught.
Of note, Young’s recommendation was put forward with no notice to the affected school community, and no prior discussion with the Connaught SCC.  Instead, it appeared as an item on the board agenda just before the start of the long weekend, labelled “Heritage designation information,” with no further information as to what the nature of the discussion would be.
What’s good: The original motion supporting heritage designation, put forward by Carla Back last June, helped keep Connaught on the agenda. Although defeated, for the first time there was public discussion among trustees about what might happen if the demolition plan cannot go ahead. The debate generated forced them to at least think about it.
What’s next: Keep Connaught on the agenda. Continue talking to the experts about renovation options for the school. Press the ministry of education to support renovation and proper maintenance of older school buildings.
Of note: Currently there are three public schools on the city’s municipal heritage holding bylaw list, Davin (1929), Balfour (1930) and Thomson, as well as the former board office at 1860 Lorne Street. The bylaw list provides a duty to consult before demolition, and can be used as a stepping stone to gain provincial designation.
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