Tatum’s letter

Oct. 19, 2013

Aleana Young,

I would like to express my extreme unhappiness with the motion that you put forward to oppose pursuing heritage status for the historic Ecole Connaught Community School. I ask you to please reconsider your position on this issue.

My name is Tatum Lawlor, I am 22 years old and graduated grade 8 from Connaught in 2005. I am currently studying Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, but the Cathedral Village in Regina will always be my true home. For my entire life I have experienced the streets of Cathedral Village and even in my comparatively short time I have seen much change in the community, especially in the last 5 or so years.

Being in the field of Architecture and community building, I am certainly not opposed to change and ‘progress,’ when appropriate. However, I do not believe the words ‘change’ and ‘progress’ always go hand in hand. Heritage and history are integral parts of building a diverse (in terms of people, cultures, religions, income levels AND infrastructure), safe and enjoyable community. The historic Connaught School is an endlessly important heritage structure for its surrounding neighbourhood, as well as the City of Regina. It is so unfortunate the some are to distracted to recognize this fact.

What is interesting about city planning and community building, is that individuals such as yourself, who’s job title might be ‘trustee,’ might not think of themselves of as a significant actor in this field (which is dangerous). In situations such as this you will have an incredible impact on not only the current residents of the Cathedral Area, Connaught School students and teachers, but also on the entire future of the neighbourhood itself, present day and far into the future. Heritage buildings give communities a sense of belonging and permanence. They give community members a sense of connectivity throughout time to people and their surrounding environment, which is especially important today. They also add an air of mystery and intrigue to what this place used to be. I am extremely confident in saying that destroying Connaught School is not what is best for my community.

Here are some additional points I would like to add

  • Connaught has served the Cathedral Area for 100 years and is Regina’s oldest public school.
  • The board already has three other public schools under the Municipal Heritage Holding Bylaw: Davin, Thomson and Balfour (none of which are as old as Connaught).
  • As argued by trustee Beck, heritage status would open up new opportunities and partnerships for school renewal, and would honour the results of well-attended public consultations.
  • Heritage Canada and other heritage organizations and experts across the country are ready and willing to help facilitate renovation planning that more than meets the learning needs of students in the 21st century.
  • The school’s structural condition is at best unknown, with the board refusing to conduct the tests recommended by its own consultants. A request to allow building conservation experts to examine the school, at no cost to the board, was refused.
  • Schools of the same age and construction have been successfully and beautifully renovated at relatively low cost in other Canadian cities, for example Moose Jaw.

I could type forever about how passionate I am on this subject and in this situation specifically as the historic Connaught School is very dear to myself and my friends, but I will leave it at this and ask you again to please reconsider your position on this issue after pondering the potential detriment the Cathedral Neighbourhood could feel from having this historic building destroyed forever.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email,

Tatum Lawlor

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