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This site was dedicated to saving Vineland's original one room schoolhouse from demolition.

20 July 2015: Ontario Superior Court decision regarding Vineland's Schoolhouse

This afternoon the Ontario Superior Court ruled against our motion to the extend the temporary injunction against demolition of Vineland's historic 1895 one-room school house that the Court issued on Tuesday, July 7th.

As a result, we have ended our related application for judicial review of the earlier decisions rendered by the Town of Lincoln and the Province of Ontario against designation of the school house as an official municipal or provincial heritage site.

While we are obviously deeply saddened that this will mean the permanent loss of this architecturally and culturally significant landmark, we are grateful to the Court for its thorough and careful consideration of our arguments in this case.

We are also thankful for the wide support our efforts to save Vineland's last public heritage building received from across our community.

13 July 2015: The 1895 schoolhouse and the recent legal action

For some time, a wide range of concerned citizens, including the Town of Lincoln's Heritage Committee, MPP Tim Hudak, and the Friends of Vineland Public School 1895, have called for the DSBN to work with the community to ensure that Vineland's historically and culturally significant 1895 school house is preserved for future generations and that the new Twenty Valley Public School opens on-time and on-budget.

This win-win solution remains entirely possible.

According to the DSBN's own site plan, preservation of the school house would not impede the completion of the Twenty Valley Public School in any way. Indeed, demolition of the 1910s, 1950s and 1970s additions to Vineland Public School continues undelayed, as does work to service the site and prepare the site's new parking lot and driveways. All that would be lost by preserving the school house are the three parking spaces planned for the area where the school house now stands.

Unfortunately, the DSBN has not engaged with our many requests to work together toward the win-win solution that would see the school house preserved and the new building opened on time and on budget.

After exhausting every other available avenue for dialogue, DSBN senior management was notified on the morning of Monday, 6 July of our intent to initiate legal action to protect the school house. This letter also asked the DSBN to enter into discussion with us and, in the interim, to undertake not to cause any damage to the school house. Nevertheless, on that early Monday evening, the school house was substantially damaged by the DSBN's contractor.

The injunction restraining any further damage to the school house was sought and received the next day (Tuesday, 7 July) in Ontario Superior Court at St Catharines. On the same morning, an application was made for judicial review that asks the court to remit the determination of the school house's heritage designation to the Town Council and the Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

We urge the DSBN to seek immediate heritage designation of the 1895 school house, to repair the damage done to the school house on the evening of Monday 6 July, and to work collaboratively with the community to ensure Vineland's heritage is protected and the needs of its students are met on-time and on-budget. - BH

8 July 2015: Update on Vineland's 1895 school house

22 September 2014: Summary of Carla Mackie's presentation to Lincoln Town Council's Corporate Priorities Meeting

Town of Lincoln Councillors asked two main questions in August:

1) Who's job is it to designate the VPS 1895 schoolhouse a heritage site?

2)How will we pay for it?

The presentation made on Monday evening provided answers to these questions....

1) It's our (Lincoln Town Council's) responsibility to save VPS 1895, not DSBN's. I forwarded the email I received from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport to Town Council.

To summarize... under the Ontario Heritage Act:

- Municipalities have been charged with the responsibility to protect Ontario's heritage.

- Requiring consent of the property owner is not consistent with the Act or its purpose.

- The Town of Lincoln's requirement of owner consent for a designation is contrary to the intent of the Act.

- The Act provides for notice, possible objections and a hearing process to balance the needs of preservation and property rights.

Local contributions built the school, not provincial money. If DSBN will not save the schoolhouse, it should be transferred to Town of Lincoln ownership. It does not make sense to insist on DSBN consent for a move to designate given that DSBN never paid for it!

2) There are a variety of grants available, but in order to qualify, the schoolhouse must be designated a heritage site.

Examples of funding include:

Federal Legacy Fund: up to $500,000 to mark anniversaries over 100 years. We can celebrate VPS's 125 anniversary in 2020!

Local Festivals Grant: up to $200,000 for eligible expenses. Artfest could be eligible.

Smaller grants: Benjamin Moore Community Restoration Program, Niagara Community Fund, Niagara Investment in Culture

Other opportunities: working with the John Howard Society

And more!

Here are the next steps for the new Town Council:

1) Amend Council's current designation practice

2) Designate VPS 1895 as a heritage site

3) A motion from Council is needed to direct Town staff to confirm any costs, contractual obligations with the DSBN if the entire school is saved.

4) Work with the DSBN to transfer ownership to Lincoln

5) Work with the DSBN, its architects and contractors to safely leave the original school intact

6) Work with the DSBN if the schoolhouse continues to be used as a classroom

7) Otherwise, incorporate schoolhouse as an asset in Vineland's business improvement plan

4 September 2014: Reply from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport regarding the Ontario Heritage Act and designation

Hello Ms. Mackie,

Thank you very much for taking the time to send your query regarding the Vineland Public School.

There are no requirements under the Ontario Heritage Act to seek or receive consent of a property owner to designate property for its cultural heritage value.

A November 2003 Ontario Divisional Court decision was released on the case of Tremblay v. Lakeshore (Town) which was in regards to the issue of council requiring owner's consent before considering the designation of a property under section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act. You may wish to read the Ministry of Culture's observation on this case on page 10 of Designating Heritage Properties in the Ontario Heritage Tool Kit.

In brief, highlights of the court's decision are:

[15] The purpose of the Act is to provide for the conservation, protection and preservation of the heritage of Ontario. In order to protect the heritage of Ontario, municipalities have been given the power to designate the properties of their choice and thus to suspend certain private property rights. Those provisions of the Act must be applied in such a way as to ensure the attainment of the legislature's objectives.

[23] Requiring the consent of the owner is not consistent with an overall reading of the Act or its purpose. Indeed, the Act contemplates notice to the owner, possible objections, and a hearing process [See Note 6 at end of document].

[24] The object of the Act is the conservation and protection of the heritage of Ontario. This may interfere with individual property rights [See Note 7 at end of document].

[26] The Town imposed a condition contrary to the intent of the legislation. By imposing a condition on the application that was not provided for at law, the Town aborted the decision-making process. The owner's consent is not a pre- condition. Indeed, one can think of a variety of situations where the owner would not want the heritage designation. [page115]

[27] ...... Moreover, the very purpose of the Act must be to balance the interests of the public, community and the owner.

The full decision may be found at this website:

I trust you find this of assistance. Please do contact me if you have further questions.

Best regards,
Bertrand (Bert) Duclos
Heritage Outreach Consultant
Culture Services Unit
Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport
401 Bay Street, Suite 1700
Toronto, ON M7A 0A7
Tel: 416-314-7154
Fax: 416-212-1802
Ensuring the Past~Enlightning the Present~Enriching the Future
I am working with OPSEU and Proud to Serve You

3 September 2014: Question sent to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport regarding the Ontario Heritage Act and designation

-----Original Message-----
Sent: September-03-14 8:59 PM
To: General, Info (MTCS)
Subject: question

My name is Carla Mackie, I am a member of the Lincoln Heritage Committee and a member of an adhoc community group called Friends of Vineland Public School 1895. The Friends are trying to save a one room school house from demolition next summer (2015). The school is owned by the District School Board of Niagara and they are not interested in designating the school. The current Lincoln Town Council has gone against the Heritage Committee's recommendations to have the school designated. The one room school room is intact, solid, and safe to use and has welcomed its last kindergarten class this year. Fortunately, it is an election year and the Friends are making the saving the school an election issue with the hope that the new Town Council will reverse its decision. It has been the current Town Council's practice to not designate a building without the owner's permission and we are asking the Town to make an exception to this practice considering the school was paid for by taxpayers and volunteer efforts over the years. Under the Ontario Heritage Act, a building can be designated without the owner's consent. I am hoping that you could write a formal letter to the Lincoln Town Council (or to me, that I could pass on) stating that this fact is indeed true and that they have the power to do so under the Ontario Heritage Act. Can you please let me know if this is possible? Thank you, Carla

25 August 2014: Summary letter of Brett House's presentation at the Lincoln Town Council's Corporate Priorities Meeting

Dear Mayor Hodgeson and Lincoln Town Councillors,

I am writing to you in advance of my presentation tonight at the Corporate Priorities Committee Meeting. On behalf of Friends of Vineland Public School 1895, I will be asking Council to please designate the original 1895 1-room schoolhouse in Vineland a Heritage Site.

The school is probably the finest remaining example of late-1800s public school architecture in Niagara a nd perhaps southern Ontario, built of the distinctive Beamsville Foundry's brick that makes it particularly noteworthy for this area. It would be a real tragedy to allow this last public landmark in Vineland to be destroyed, particularly after so much of Victoria Avenue has been pulled down in recent decades, including the beautiful elms that used to line the entire road, the original Rittenhouse school donated by Moses Rittenhouse, and the historic buildings at the centre of the village.

The schoolhouse is still in excellent condition, as evidenced by the fact that it will continue to be a kindergarten classroom through the 2014-15 academic year. What's more, it would be relatively simple to detach it from later additions: the schoolhouse's walls remain sound and intact.

Saving the schoolhouse should not cause any substantial delay in completing the new Twenty Valley School building: despite some recent damage to the schoolhouse by construction crews, the DSBN maintains that demolition of the schoolhouse has never been planned before next summer. The schoolhouse space is needed for the kindergarten till then. What's more, saving the old schoolhouse will only displace 3 or 4 parking spots in the Twenty Valley School site plan: no new buildings are planned for any spot near the schoolhouse.

It's entirely within your powers under the Ontario Heritage Act to designate the schoolhouse a Heritage Site. While I appreciate your reluctance to act when the current administrators of a property do not endorse Heritage status, the Vineland schoolhouse is different from a home, business or barn: the school was built with contributions from the local community long before the Province provided any funds for school construction. It was transferred to the Lincoln County Schoolboard at no cost. It has been maintained through tax dollars and volunteer effort. If the DSBN is not prepared to preserve the schoolhouse, it should be returned at no cost to the community that built it and rightfully owns it.

I can be reached on this email address or my cell (514.929.3692) at any time and would be happy to discuss. I went to kindergarten in the schoolhouse and completed all of my elementary-school studies at Vineland. The schoolhouse means a great deal to me and many members of this community.

Thank you for your consideration.

Warm regards,

Brett House