Peter’s letter to trustees

Oct. 21, 2013


As a former resident of Regina, I would like you to consider Heritage Status for Connaught School.

As someone in the design field, I understand that costs of renovation can be daunting when compared to the costs of new construction. I also understand that funding capital improvements for educational facilities can be difficult depending on how such funding is evaluated (i.e. cost per sq.m.). There are a number of successful projects around the world where our significant historic public buildings are protected to act in their existing role, or to be re-purposed for new uses. While I do not know the specifics for Connaught, I do know that there are a wide variety of options for how we preserve and protect our heritage. Demolition and replacement is something that should only be considered in extreme circumstances.

I moved to Lumsden from Yellowknife when I was 9, and from Lumsden to Regina when I was 12. I went to Davin for one year prior to going to Sheldon Williams. I had friends at Connaught, and spent many hours at the adjacent Connaught Library. Since then I have moved around a fair amount, and find myself back in the North. In the North we have no significant historic context for our buildings, and that makes me realize the importance that our heritage buildings have to not only our immediate surroundings, but to who we are.

While I have appreciated going to school in modern buildings, the older buildings are the ones that I believe had the most influence on my experience. Schools like Davin, Balfour, Thomson and Connaught provide settings that have a history of education and expose students day-in and day-out to a sense of history and context. Of course, the buildings also need to be able to adapt to the changing needs of education. These are not easy decisions, but the community importance of a building does need to be given significant weight to the analysis of whether to renovate, re-purpose or demolish.

As I am not intimately familiar with this debate, my request is that you consider where the “win win” situation is within all of this. With available budgets, with potential partnerships, with technological solutions… how might it be possible to craft the appropriate solution. Our heritage buildings are something that we hold in trust. Once they are gone they cannot be replaced.

I appreciate that your role is to facilitate the education of our youth, and that is a bottom line that is incredibly important. Please, seek to find the partnerships where a community consensus might be achieved. Connaught has 100 years of memory… and the accompanying power of those memories could be impressive.

Thanks for your consideration, and I wish you success in finding a win-win.

Peter Briggs

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