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No saving heritage buildings on Sandbanks Provincial Park property: Ministry

The Ministry will seemingly not be swayed in its plans to demolish two heritage homes on Sandbanks Provincial Park property, despite efforts from local heritage enthusiasts. Mike Postovit/Global News

Despite vociferous support to save two heritage homes on Sandbanks Provincial Park property, the province is not playing ball.

A letter from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to the Save Heritage Sandbanks Homes group all but assures the demolition of the Hyatt and MacDonald homes in the future. The homes were built in 1869 and 1878, respectively.

Thursday marks the deadline to start the teardown of the two properties.

Read more: Prince Edward County residents fight to save heritage homes slated to be demolished

The homes were slated to be removed from the provincial park after the Ministry said heritage assessments of the structures showed they were not worth saving.

“The studies confirmed the deteriorated condition of the houses and that they present significant health and safety risks,” the letter said.

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The correspondence also noted that there was nothing particularly unique about the homes that would be in the interest of saving.

Only one structure, the MacDonald farm hog shed, had any provincial heritage value. This building will be preserved, the Ministry letter said.

This is something the heritage activists in Prince Edward County disagree with. On Wednesday, the group posted an assessment by local architect Edwin Rose on its blog, “Expert Heritage Architect: Homes are distinct and restorable.”

Rose took a tour of the two buildings last year, and wrote the following:

“The two houses left a lasting impression of unusual layouts, generous spaces, and a remarkable survival of interior decoration, including wide, moulded door and window trims, matching baseboards, and panelling under windows. I had enough time to ascertain that the houses were still in a structurally stable and restorable condition.”

Click to play video: 'Fighting to save some heritage homes in Prince Edward County' Fighting to save some heritage homes in Prince Edward County
Fighting to save some heritage homes in Prince Edward County – Aug 27, 2021

The heritage group argues that both homes could be restored in order to be used for retail, hospitality, exhibitions and meetings.

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The group as well as local politicians have asked that the buildings be preserved with the help of local fundraising, but the province nixed that idea as well.

“Even if private funding was secured for the renovation of both houses, Ontario Parks would still incur annual costs for operating and maintaining the buildings. Given the findings in the studies, it would inappropriate to use taxpayer dollars for this purpose,” the Ministry said.

The Ministry said public consultation took place before the decision was made to demolish the buildings.

Following the demolition, Ontario Parks will invite the Prince Edward Heritage Advisory Committee and “other interested individuals” to commemorate the buildings and install a plaque at the site.

A consultation will take place on how to use the site after the buildings are gone.

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