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Charles Hazell

Charles Hazell addressed Saugeen Shores Council March 11 in Council Chambers concerning the former manse at 254 High Street.

Hub Staff

Many citizens attended the Saugeen Shores Committee of Whole meeting March 11 in support of a delegation from Charles Hazell, who is opposed to the demolition of the former manse which resides at 254 High Street in Southampton. Prior to the delegation, John Willetts spoke in the Open Forum on the same subject. As a builder and renovator himself, Willetts talked of the impressive condition of historic home and the quality craftsmanship he witnessed on a recent tour of the residence.

Hazell took to the podium armed with his insights as an architect and a detailed 30 page presentation to dissuade Saugeen Shores Council from supporting the demolition of the manse. This is one of three presentations Hazell plans to deliver and he shared his concerns of what he sees as missing steps in the decision making process that secured the fate of this site.

Hazell questioned the need for the museum to hold 50 percent of the county's archives projected to the year 2080 and emphasized the importance of the Victoria and High Street intersection and the role it plays as an “anchor point” to Southampton’s main street.

Hazell argued that each corner attributes to the purpose of this junction and ”the kind of clarity it provides regarding the intersection as it divides institutional use from commercial use and creates a unique access or counterpoint to the flag at the other end of main street.”

He advised against the council members supporting the demolition and suggested that they would regret their decision for the remainder of their term. In response, Councillor John Rich asked Hazell for advice on how council should proceed.

“What can you do," echoed Hazell. “I suggest you do everything possible and necessary to stop this from proceeding.”

Rich also asked where council would find the funds if they were to carry out an alternative plan of action for the building. "Currently that project isn’t costing us anything," he explained. "If it was going to cost us more money to keep the manse and to fix it up... where would you propose we make up for that," he asked.

"You will find the money," Hazell responded. "You know how valuable it is, you will find the money."

Councillor Cheryl Grace directed her questions to Mayor Luke Charbonneau. She first asked for confirmation on the current state of the project after the $1.16 million in funding was removed from the county budget.

“County Museum Committee, as you know, gave direction to remove the house from the property," said Charbonneau, adding that the initial intent was to sell it or, if that was not possible, to demolish it. "That direction stands as far as I know," he said.

Grace then asked if Bruce County Council was willing to consider an architectural plan that would integrate and preserve the rectory and integrate a new expanded project," a plan she called a "win-win."

Mayor Charbonneau explained that the Director of the Museum and the CEO will be issuing a report that will provide guidance for financing of this project and said he suspects the report will also include further direction on the options for usage of the property. He added that until the report is obtained they cannot make any further assumptions on the future of the site.

“Ultimately the County acquired the site at a significant expense," declared Charbonneau. "The intent is to convert it to public use through a new institutional development.”

Outside council chambers Hazell conveyed his discontent by saying, “The mayor threw down the gauntlet and the challenge will be accepted.”