On second anniversary of Alma fire, it’s time for province to protect our past

Alma fire, May 28, 2008

Dear MPP’s,
Today marks 2 years to the day that we lost beautiful & historic Alma College,in St.Thomas,Ont.Sadly nothing has been done on the property to preserve and protect the 2 remaining structures and outdoor amphi-theatre.On Wed May 28th,2008 a fire brought down this magnificent structure,after former culture minister Aileen Carroll turned a blind eye to the neglect and destruction,that continued on a daily basis.

I realize for many politicians built heritage is not a “hot button” issue,but after reading a recent articles in which speaker Steve Peters was angered over the possibility of the Ontario Legislature losing its “iconic view”,should a high rise be allowed to go ahead,leaves me to wonder why this sort of outrage was not evident when Alma College was being badly neglected,in his hometown of St.Thomas.Now I will give him his do,he did defend the college and managed to secure a work stoppage,but sadly fire destroyed the college,on the very day Mr.Peter’s was in McGuinty’s office.The thing that angers most heritage advocates is the fact that Mr.Peter’s has said he has consulted with lawyers,and wants to appeal the Ontario Municipal Boards ruling,that will allow the high rise to be built behind Queen’s Park.Mr.Peter’s is urging his own party to overturn the OMB decision,which leads us to believe they dont have faith in the government appointed OMB board.They have even considered “special legislation” to over turn the decision.Why does this Liberal government thinks it can change the rules,when it suits them,but the rest of us have to settle for the OMB’s decision.When the OMB ruled Alma College could be destroyed,via the wrecking ball,we had to abide by that decision.We would love to be able to come up with a new law,when the old one doesnt satisfy our needs,but the public does not have that luxury.This Liberal government needs to protect our built heritage,and they need to start with 96 Moore Street,in St.Thomas,Ont.We have fought this battle long enough,and we need to see some sort of leadership at the ministry of culture.The finger pointing only works for so long,then the government has to pull up its “big boy pants” and do some actual work.96 Moore Street needs the protection of heritage designation,so the chapel,music building and outdoor amphi-theatre can be spared from any further damage.Mr.Steve Peter’s should seriously consider special legislation,to protect 96 Moore Street,considering his hometown is not famous for protecting the past.We are asking this Liberal government to take a stand and protect our past,for if we allow 96 Moore Street to be completely destroyed,we are allowing 130 years of rich Ontario history to be plowed under,and that would be very sad indeed.

Robert F.Foster

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