Serving Dorchester, Belmont, Thorndale, Thamesford, Putnam, Crampton, Avon, Harrietsville-Mossley and surrounding area
Signpost photo by Wendy Spence
BEAUTIFUL CHILLY DAY: Trevor, Natalia and dog Pancake get some exercise on the Mill Pond rink during Saturday’s power outage. The temperature at the time was -18 C. About 3,000 customers were without hydro on Saturday from about 10:21 a.m. to almost 1:30 p.m., which resulted in a number of business closures. Hydro One representative Tiziana Baccega Rosa said the outage was the result of equipment failure.

Council disbands municipal

heritage committee

by Wendy Spence

     A group that goes back 22 years is no longer in existence. Council decided to support the recommendation of Thames Centre staff to disband the municipal heritage committee. All of the committees of council underwent a review to determine whether or not they felt they were still relevant to the municipality’s needs.
     “It caught me off guard,” said Deputy Mayor Marcel Meyer, who voted against the dissolution. He said he believed the committee served a purpose and the members had an awareness of things to which the average person wouldn’t pay attention. “Who is going to keep an eye on our heritage buildings?” he asked. He thought it was valuable to have an outside approach to make sure they weren’t missing something, even if the committee only met once a year.
     Former municipal heritage committee chair, Elliott Gnidec, said that vice chair Ruth Axford, whose husband started the local architectural conservation advisory committee (LACAC), the predecessor to the committee, was not permitted to speak at the meeting last month when clerk Margaret Alexander presented a report about the status of the committees of council. He said it was disrespectful and unprofessional and that he had made a request for her to speak in a letter that he sent in his absence.
     Gnidec believes it sends a message that heritage isn’t important, but he said it is crucial for residents to know about the roots of the community, especially younger kids. “If you don’t expose people to it, then it goes to the wayside.” Axford said, “If you don’t know where you came from, you don’t know where you’re going.” She enjoyed volunteering on the committee and working with Gnidec and was disappointed with the decision made to disband the group.
     “The minutes (of meetings over the years) don’t reflect the amount of work done on a committee project,” said Gnidec. They were reviewed as part of the determination to disband the committee. The committee members and Gnidec were disappointed with the approach staff took to reach the recommendation. “The committee was never asked to provide input or speak to how relevant the committee has been and will continue to be.”
     The heritage committee’s body of work includes the creation of a publication a number of years ago by LACAC identifying significant buildings in Dorchester. As the municipal heritage committee, which it became in 2010, projects included creating a brochure in partnership with the Mossley Post Heritage and Citizenship Society, forming a sub-committee to create the three volume history book of the former North Dorchester Township, completing the first train mural project and providing council with an updated priority listing of heritage homes in Thames Centre.
     The committee’s goal for this year was to start working on researching a heritage district in Thorndale first, then Dorchester.
     Gnidec pointed out that the committee wasn’t onerous on the municipality financially.
     Earlier last year, there was a discussion about some of the members’ request to give consideration to holding evening meetings to better accommodate the hours of work of some of the members. The report showed that most meetings had been held during daytime hours.
     Gnidec received a letter notifying him of the decision as did the other members. He said there are “no sour grapes.”
     The report about committees and boards indicated that when council appointed a municipal heritage committee, it was at a time when council felt there was a need for an active heritage designation program. Since the LACAC was established in 1995, there had been no requests for designations brought forward through that committee nor the municipal heritage committee. The only designation the municipality has ever had is the Mossley General Store and Post Office, which was designated by council in 1989, before the LACAC/municipal heritage committee had been formed.
     Given this, the municipal staff recommended that the committee be disbanded and that council assume the responsibilities relating to heritage matters. It was proposed that if council received a request in relation to heritage matters, including new designations, an adhoc committee approach might be undertaken to help council with decisions if they believe it’s necessary. At that time, it was stated in the report that the current members on the committee could be approached to ask them if they would be interested in sitting on the adhoc committee. Gnidec said he believed it is unlikely that the members would be open to doing this.
     For the updated list of historical homes of interest, visit and click on “heritage” from the front page.
     Other boards and committees that were reviewed and remain in place include: the senior centre advisory board, police services board, the Thames Centre Sports Wall of Fame committee, Thorndale fire station construction advisory committee, the Thames Centre special events committee and the Thorndale Community Centre master plan advisory committee.

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