The two appeals against PCSP Council’s decision to grant approval-in-principle to the Anglican Diocese’s application for demolition of the St. Philip’s Heritage Church were unsuccessful, and once the Council and Provincial Archaeologist office approves demolition plans, destruction of the building can commence, provided there are no appeals, including going to the Supreme Court. Or unless Bishop Peddle and the Diocese agree to sit down with the CBTS and look at preservation options.
The Appeal Board decision is disappointing: it will mean a valuable heritage asset of the Town will be destroyed. It also demonstrates that the administrative mechanisms which have been put in place, which include a Heritage Strategic Plan, Heritage Advisory Committee, Built Heritage Guidelines, Heritage Programs and Services Coordinator, and the heritage provisions of the new Municipal Plan and Regulations have not proven effective in preserving this important heritage asset.
The Appeal Board’s decision seems to have been based not on the “matters” presented to them by the Church by the Sea (CBTS) as the appellant, but on “matters” presented to them by the town’s lawyer.
The first “matter” identified by the Appeal Board was “Does the town have the authority to issue a demolition permit for a heritage structure?”. CBTS stated that the lawyer for Council was attempting to make this an issue however it was not an issue for the CBTS. Instead, we argued that the decision making process was in contravention of the town’s own regulations, which required the property owner and the town to “pursue all available options to prevent demolition”. The Town did not respond to the CBTS or the NL Historic Trust proposals and there is no documentation to confirm that the options were evaluated. The Appeal Board concluded that the length of time, which Council took to review the options, “demonstrated that the Town encouraged preservation of the structure and therefore satisfied the Traditional Community policies in the Town’s Municipal Plan”. The Appeal Board also ignored the fact that Councillor Collins declared the CBTS proposal an “excellent plan” yet he voted for demolition instead.
The second “matter” considered, according to the Appeal Board, was “Does the Town have the authority to issue an approval-in-principle? Again this was not an issue raised by the CBTS as a “matter” under dispute. What we did raise as an issue was the resolution presented to Council “Approval-in-principle shall be subject to full compliance with the town’s Municipal Plan and Development Regulations”. Basically we said the resolution itself was inaccurate and non-compliant with proper rules of order.
The appellants now have until July 16th to file an appeal to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. The CBTS is considering its options.