Heritage status recommended for Connaught

photoThe Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee today passed a motion supporting Municipal Heritage Status for Connaught School. The motion will go forward as a recommendation to City Council on June 23.

 

Among the reasons mentioned was Connaught’s role as a significant heritage structure anchoring 13th Avenue, and the potential of demolition to set off a domino effect. There were also concerns expressed about the impact on the environment and city landfill, and the need for consultation with heritage specialists.

 

Some members, including the Chamber of Commerce representative, said they had reservations about passing a motion that impacts private property. Other members spoke to the public nature of the building, and the hope that the board would become more cooperative and open to continuing it as a renovated heritage school, as has been done in other parts of Canada.

 

A report from the City planning department noted the building had significant heritage value and was considered part of the Official Community Plan. The report stated the stakeholder groups they contacted supported designation, including Heritage Regina, the Cathedral Area Community Association, Heritage Saskatchewan, Biographies Saskatchewan, and the Architectural Society of Saskatchewan. Heritage Canada sent a support letter as well that argued the school is of national historic significance.

 

The sole objection to the nomination came from Regina Public Schools. As a result, the planning department’s recommended denying status. On questioning from the committee, however, it was clarified that there have been past examples of proceeding without owner consent, which is not required. In the end, the committee members decided to advise Council that Connaught School is a significant heritage asset in need of protection.

 

It’s hoped this may be a strong wake-up call to the school board that Connaught matters to Regina. It’s time to sit down and plan a school that respects the unique nature of the Cathedral Area, and to start hearing parents’ concerns about problems with new school designs.  We can also hope this will allow some serious sober second thought before rushing to demolish the only tangible, existing hold on a school in the community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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