For several years, the Lanark Heritage Preservation Society has submitted letters and proposals to Council and posted letters on-line, in the Era and on our website.
But as I was driving home today, I realized that most people, having read only snippets here and there, don’t have an overall sense of what the full benefits of saving the Mill are; what The LHPS propose to do; and what a specific process for carrying out our plans might look like.
So here’s the full picture:
- The current situation: the building is under a demolition order. Demolition would have one positive effect: if the buildings are flattened, all risk to passersby will be removed. On the other hand, the property will become bare ground with a hefty lien on it, and is likely to remain barren and unproductive for the future. It will not grow the municipality’s tax base; will not contribute to the Village economy; will destroy a major piece of Village history and the opportunity to develop the Village as a heritage tourism site; and will create major environmental costs (demolition accounts for 20-30% of the municipal landfill burden in Ontario).
- The LHPS proposal: The LHPS is proposing that the risk to the community be mitigated not by demolishing the building, but by stabilizing it. How to do that is detailed in the John G. Cooke & Associates report (which all Council members have received. The cost of demolition is proposed to be paid for by the Township, with a lien on the property to cover those costs. Similarly, stabilization costs could be placed as a lien on the property.
- The future: If that were done, LHPS’ signed conditional offer on the property could be activated — which would give us a year to research options and costs for re-purposing the building; develop a business plan; and raise project funds from heritage organizations and private donors. That research would produce a staged plan for the site that could start with restoring the stabilized stone shell and providing some landscaping. The site could then be used as a market; a site for weddings, family reunions and other events; a tourism centre; and other income-generating purposes. In a later stage, the heritage building’s interior could be restored, following some of the ideas presented at the 2021 community meeting (see Video: Kitten Mill Meeting – Sunday October 31, 2021 – The Lanark Heritage Preservation Society for a video of the meeting). That would increase income, allowing for further site development/programming as well as re-payment of the Township’s lien.
Converting the demolition order to a stabilization order it offers a much better chance that the lien on the property will be re-paid; that economic growth will result; that an irreplaceable heritage building will be retained; that the burden on the environment will be minimized; and that the physical well-being and appearance of the Village will be vastly improved.
If you see the logic of that approach, please email the Reeve: email@example.com
The Lanark Heritage Preservation Society