In a closed session of Bruce County Council today (Aug. 15), a recorded tie vote (weighted) defeated a Motion brought forward by Councilor, Mayor Janice Jackson (Town of South Bruce Peninsula) regarding the proposed expansion of the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre Archives.
The expansion has long been considered with a proposed expansion for the property adjacent to the Museum, where space for storage of collections, including the Archives, is at a premium in the existing crowded facility. The adjacent property, formerly owned by the Anglican Church, and that includes the Church Rectory (house), was reportedly sold to the County of Bruce for some $550,000.
Following the purchase, Bruce Nuclear Power, according to sources, approached the County with a proposal to also build a Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) (an innovative ‘think tank’ similar to the City of Waterloo’s global Perimeter Institute) on the property with a view to creating a campus of learning excellence in Southampton, a community that, in the past, has always prided itself on its cultural outlook.
The proposed NII and Archives expansion would have meant the demolition of the Rectory, to which a small group of Southampton residents, now known as the Southampton Cultural Heritage Conservancy, objected … despite the economic benefits it would have brought to the community, along with global recognition.
The Motion brought forward by Councilor, Mayor Jackson recommended that:
- Council direct staff to cancel the demolitionof the Southampton Rectory
- staff immediately notify the legal team and take appropriate action to notify the party to the suit that the action filed again the County to prevent the demolition is not longer required and should thus be settled by withdrawal without costs
- Council maintains the Krug bequest has been legally utilized
- consideration be given that the Nuclear Innovation Institute will no longer be constructed on the Rectory lands, the plans and appropriate budget to accommodate archives be revisited
“We can build an Archives on the existing property footprint and, when the NII is removed, it gives us a different scenario to look at,” said Jackson. “At the last meeting (of Council), members were also committed to determining if the Krug funds are being used properly. I stand firm that the house does not need to be brought down. I am also quite sure that we can bring this Motion back as we were one member short as Councilor Milt McIver (Mayor of Northern Bruce Peninsula) was not there for the vote, which was a recorded, weighted vote. I’m not sure what the Procedural By-law is but I am going to look at bringing the Motion back.”
When asked what he thought about the outcome of the defeated Motion, County Councilor, Mayor Luke Charbonneau (Saugeen Shores) chose his words carefully saying that it had been a closed session (in camera) that is covered by the laws governing such a session. He did say however, that the actions of the small group in Southampton have had a political affect that diminishes the prospect of what he views as what “… would have been a very positive development for Southampton”.