LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Why should anyone volunteer to preserve or heritage?

Seaway News Staff
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Why should anyone volunteer to preserve or heritage?
Locomotive #17 at the corner of Ninth and Brookdale Avenue. Notice the sign on the front side of the train asking people not to climb on the structure (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

City Councils budget meeting (on February 3rd) left me extremely disappointed.

Locomotive #17 will be moved to Smith Falls at the cost of $50,000 (which the City of Cornwall will be paying — instead of using these funds to refurbish and move the locomotive within our own city.)

Councillor MacDonald made some comments suggesting that no volunteers or groups came forward to fundraise for the Locomotive, and I would like to respond to her claims. How in the world could anyone be expected to come forward to help, when our own council did not know the fate of the locomotive. I would also like to note that a local business who can and was willing to refurbish the train within the original estimated budget came forward to help, and that was quickly dismissed by those who were not in favour of keeping the locomotive.

My question for the six councillors who voted in favour of this relocation, is why should historical groups like Heritage Cornwall bother volunteering their time? Why should these groups bother putting in the effort to research, designate, and present to council why they believe something is historically important, when it is so obvious that the majority of the people who sit around our council table clearly do not care about our heritage. Having been a member of Heritage Cornwall for several years, and having worked on a designation myself, I can tell you it is months of work and research. To hear the City of Cornwall’s Division Manager for Municipal Works state, “There’s a heritage designation on the property where the locomotive sits that could probably be easily rescinded through a council resolution” is such an insult to those who dedicate their time and efforts into commemorating and preserving our history.

So my question once again to the six councillors who voted against keeping the locomotive in our city, is why should anyone bother volunteering in the name of heritage? Why should Heritage Cornwall ever consider designating something in our city again, when their efforts are so clearly unappreciated.

You insulted those who put forth the efforts to preserve the locomotive, and you stomped over the efforts of a previous council who unanimously voted in favour of protecting this piece of history. I sincerely cringe at the thought of having another piece of our heritage being in jeopardy, with the decision of its fate being at your mercy.

“Let’s face it, the old cliché was that if you wanted to get rid of a building in Cornwall, just put a heritage designation on it.” – Councillor Dean Hollingsworth.

I want to personally thank Mayor Bernadette, and councillors Carilyne Hébert, Justin Towndale, Dean Hollingsworth, and Maurice Dupelle for trying to salvage this important piece of Cornwall’s story. Thank you for all of your efforts.

Sara Racine,
Cornwall’s Little Historian

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