As you are aware, dear Reader, the regina mom is not impressed with the Regina Public Schools Board of Education and their decision to tear down a 100 year-old school without benefit of a second opinion. So, the regina mom, being who she is, sent a letter to the Premier and copied it far and wide.*
Here’s the letter:
An Open Letter to Premier Brad Wall Regarding Connaught School March 16, 2013
Dear Premier Wall:
I understand that your government has received a request from the Regina Board of Education (RBE) to replace Connaught School. For a variety of reasons, I request that you deny it.
Before you is the opportunity to make a reckless decision or to invest in an integral piece of our history as a city and a province, as housed in that building. As a 25-year resident of the area I draw on my fundamental human right, as guaranteed by the United Nations, to insist you preserve the building. The real value of Connaught has not been properly assessed. The non-market aesthetic, cultural and other values of a refurbished school have not been properly accounted for. Furthermore, the environmental, social, and economic cost-benefit analysis of alternatives requested in public consultation meetings have not been addressed – in essence, the impacts of redevelopment on our community, our property values, our local businesses, our environment and other amenities such as the Connaught library have not been properly assessed nor communicated to local residents.
As well, the RBE’s renovation options as presented to the Ministry of Education appear to be over-costed and under-researched. Some RBE documents contain basic arithmetic errors in the thousands of dollars! A recommended investigation of the building’s structure was, to my knowledge, not completed, except for a basic visual assessment. In discussions with the Heritage community, I learned that the RBE made absolutely no effort to obtain the advice of experts in the assessment and repair of older buildings. Nor has an embodied energy study been conducted. Neither has the RBE requested comparable estimates, despite the Chair’s recent statement that the consultant’s report is a second opinion to her staff’s. In effect, the RBE has one estimate, provided by a company that specializes in new construction. Hard facts, then, do not underly the cost estimates.
RBE has done a less than impressive job of assessing redevelopment. The community consultation process was seriously flawed, conducted by a private firm that will likely bid on the new build. The recommendations in no way serve the school community, my Cathedral community, the residents of Regina or the people of Saskatchewan. The community input we gave through the consultation process has been disregarded and disparaged. This is in direct contravention of our community’s right to appropriate development strategies and equitable participation in decisions affecting heritage, as guaranteed under the ICOMOS Stockholm Charter, signed by Canada.
To demolish Connaught is to miss an exceptional opportunity to preserve our history. It is a cornerstone of the Cathedral Village and holds significant cultural and aesthetic value, a source of pride to past and current students, to residents and to all who pass by or enter its halls. That it be sent to the landfill is a disgrace and should be the absolute last resort of any administration!
I therefore support the demands, as articulated by the Save Our Connaught Committee which came into being on the March 3, 2013, that your government agree to the following:
- An independent second opinion by experts in the field on the renovation versus new build option for Connaught School, based on thorough research, recommended studies and detailed unit costs. ‘Best guesses’ are a slap to the face of our joint cultural heritage.
- A full and independent consideration of the environmental, social and economic costs and benefits of redevelopment options which includes proper consideration of the relative value of a new building versus a refurbished historic school must inform the decision.
- The Ministry of Education and the Province of Saskatchewan must apply a more fiscally responsible, community-sensitive approach to school renovation in our community.
- The Province must understand, acknowledge and take seriously its role as Steward of a nationally recognized historic school, on behalf of citizens of Saskatchewan and Canada.
I trust you will do the right thing. Thank you for your time and immediate attention to this matter.
Bernadette L. Wagner
cc: Ms. Katherine Gagne, Chair, Regina Public Schools Board of Education
Honourable Kevin Doherty, Minister Responsible for Parks, Culture & Sport
Honourable Russ Marchuk, Minister Responsible for Education
Mr. Cam Broten, Leader of the Opposition
Mr. David Forbes, NDP critic for Education
Ms. Danielle Chartiere, NDP critic for Culture
Hon. John Nilson, MLA for Regina Lakeview
Save Our Connaught
Prairie Dog Magazine
Saskboy’s Abandoned Stuff
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