By Ryan McGreal
Published November 23, 2012
Just in case you weren't already exasperated enough with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), Paul Wilson of CBC Hamilton reports that the Board is in a hurry to demolish Sanford Avenue School, a large, beautiful three-storey building that opened in 1932.
Like so many things related to the HWDSB, the story is convoluted and straight answers are few and far between:
Last week, in Room 264 at City Hall, the Heritage Committee looked for ways to save Sanford Avenue school, a handsome 80-year-old structure nearly as long as a football field.
But now it turns out the school board has already filed a request to demolish the building. And unless something changes in a hurry, the board will get that permission fast.
At that Heritage meeting on Thursday of last week, several staffers from the city's building department told the committee that demolition requests have to be processed within 10 days.
And as long as the application is complete, that request is almost always granted. The building officials said no application had been received for Sanford school.
Councillor Brian McHattie then got a motion passed to "register" the school under the Heritage act. If council endorsed that move, it would provide a 60-day protection from demolition.
But yesterday McHattie got word that - contrary to what building officials stated last week - the school board applied on Nov. 13 to demolish the school, two days before the heritage meeting.
Never mind that Mission Services and two developers with experience restoring old buildings are interested in looking into Sanford School, and never mind that one of the proposed uses of the land is to expand a next-door recreation centre. Wilson notes, "there's been no expressions-of-interest process to air those options."
Once again, the Board's lack of respect for architectural heritage, time for community engagement and sheer imagination threatens to leave a hollow in the heart of a vulnerable community. Let's hope saner heads prevail and put the brakes on the demolition process before the building is gone for good.
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