Good process and open con­sul­ta­tion im­por­tant; Her­itage Foun­da­tion

The Packet (Clarenville) - - Front page - BY MARK SQUIBB Mark.squibb@thep­

The church in Prince­ton was only one of four Angli­can churches de­con­se­crated this sum­mer.

St. James in King’s Cove, St. Phillips in Keels, and All Saints in Pet­ley were all de­con­se­crated Fri­day, June 20.

Of those four, only Prince­ton’s St. Peter’s was torn down; the other three were pur­chased by buy­ers who had sub­mit­ted pro­pos­als to the Dio­cese.

St. James in King’s Cove and All Saints in Pet­ley will be­come pri­vate prop­er­ties, while St. Phillips in Keels has been bought by an­other church.

Jerry Dick, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Her­itage Foun­da­tion, New­found­land and Labrador, says good process and open con­sul­ta­tion are of­ten the key to pre­serv­ing any his­toric struc­ture.

“What we’re in­ter­ested in see­ing is a good process whereby the com­mu­nity can con­sider what other op­tions there are for a church or his­toric build­ing… good com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion and dis­cus­sion as to what the op­tions are, and then a process, ideally, where there is an open call for ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est in adeptly reusing a church build­ing, with maybe the com­mu­nity be­ing given the first op­por­tu­nity,” he told The Packet in a re­cent in­ter­view.

Dick ad­mits not ev­ery build­ing will be saved, but if good process, pub­lic dis­cus­sion, and a re­quest for ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est are used to help pre­serve a build­ing, the com­mu­nity is typ­i­cally more ac­cept­ing of even a neg­a­tive out­come.

Dick noted an ex­am­ple of where this process has been suc­cess­ful; the re­cent pur­chase of the Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion Church in Har­bor Grace.

“We worked closely with the Ro­man Catholic Grand Falls Dio­cese on Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion Church in Har­bour Grace,” he said, not­ing con­sul­ta­tions were held and an ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est re­leased by the church.

That build­ing was pur­chased by Craig Flynn and Brenda O’Ri­ley, own­ers of Yel­low­belly Brew­ery in St. John’s, in midOc­to­ber to be re­fit as a restau­rant, ho­tel and spa, con­fer­ence space, brew­ery and beer gar­den.

Dick, who ac­knowl­edges that while ev­ery­body may not like the idea of the old church be­ing used as a brew­ery, says at the end of the day “the im­por­tant thing is that the com­mu­nity was con­sulted and the church is go­ing to be pre­served.”

Los­ing such build­ings, says Dick, strikes a blow to com­mu­ni­ties that touches more than just pocket books.

“It can have a very pro­found ef­fect, par­tic­u­larly when we look at church build­ings and other kinds of in­sti­tu­tional build­ings, like schools or com­mu­nity halls. I think peo­ple’s per­sonal sto­ries are all wrapped up in these places,” he noted. “They’re also land­marks… im­por­tant, phys­i­cal land­marks in a com­mu­nity”

“When there is even a sim­ple clo­sure of a church, there is a feel­ing of grief and frus­tra­tion in a com­mu­nity.”

But there are ways that com­mu­ni­ties can pro­tect their her­itage build­ings.

Dick ex­plains that one of the best ways to do so is to have mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties des­ig­nate struc­tures of his­toric value.

“That’s prob­a­bly one of the best lev­els of pro­tec­tion, be­cause they con­trol per­mit­ting— any build­ing per­mits, any de­mo­li­tion per­mits, are con­trolled by mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. So they ac­tu­ally have one of the strong­est tools.”

Un­der the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act, any mu­nic­i­pal­ity can des­ig­nate im­por­tant build­ings, struc­tures, and even land, as a her­itage site.

Build­ings can also be pro­tected un­der the Pro­vin­cial His­toric Re­sources Act, which al­lows the Her­itage Foun­da­tion to des­ig­nate a site as a provin­cially-rec­og­nized his­tor­i­cal site.

How­ever, des­ig­na­tion by the Her­itage Foun­da­tion is com­mem­o­ra­tive only; there is no le­gal obli­ga­tion of the prop­erty owner to keep the build­ing up to her­itage stan­dards; un­til fund­ing be­comes in­volved.

“Once the owner of a des­ig­nated prop­erty re­ceives fund­ing they en­ter into a le­gal con­tract with Her­itage NL which re­quires them to: a) con­sult with the foun­da­tion on any changes; b) abide by the na­tional stan­dards and guide­lines for her­itage con­ser­va­tion. They would not be al­lowed to tear down or al­ter the her­itage char­ac­ter with­out the con­sent of the foun­da­tion,” Dick ex­plains.

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