SEARCH ENGINE: The fate of the cemetery building is not a dead issue

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Q: We noticed the new Victoria Lawn administration building being built on Queenston Street in St. Catharines. The historic just inside the beautiful cemetery gates was built in the mid-1850s as the cemetery and its winding paths developed. A previous Standard article suggests that the city will demolish this beautiful old building. As much as the monuments, beautiful old trees and historic plaques everywhere, the building itself is evocative.

Have city officials considered anything other than demolition at this point?

A: The new administration building at Victoria Lawn Cemetery is well underway, but no decision has yet been made as to what will happen to the old house it replaces.

Dan Dillon, director of transportation and engineering services, said funds have been set aside for demolition, but the city will review the structure with the heritage committee before making decisions on its future.

The building is not a designated heritage structure and there have been a number of additions and fillers over the years.

“They’re going to look at it and see if there are some aspects that we would like,” Dillon said.

Once the heritage committee has given its opinion, a staff report will be sent to the municipal council to determine whether the building should be demolished or redeveloped.

The administration building was originally built for the cemetery keeper in 1856. It was occupied until the 1980s when the Superintendent of Cemeteries moved in and it was renovated to include more office space.

A 2009 study revealed a wide range of shortcomings, including issues with foundations, mechanical and electrical systems. The building does not meet accessibility standards for entrance, interior, doors, lighting and washrooms, has insufficient parking and has no sanitary sewer service.

The city cannot expand it because of nearby burial sites.

“If you want to keep it as a building of any kind, it would take a lot of work to raise it,” Dillon said.

The city council awarded a $1.8 million tender in March for the construction of a new building at 431 Queenston Street, on the site of the former Grantham fire station.

Dillon said construction should be complete by the end of October, when staff will vacate the existing building.

Q: How long has the position of regional president existed and was the first president chosen by the board?

A: The provincial government selected Niagara Region’s first president in 1969.

Founding President John Campbell was appointed by the Conservative government for a three-year term to oversee the creation of the Niagara Region. This involved the unenviable task of realigning nearly 30 municipalities out of the 12 we have today.

He was expected to be a “miracle man”.

“Well, I cannot claim that label,” Campbell said in his acceptance speech on July 8, 1969. “As an ordinary human being, however, and a concerned and enthusiastic citizen, I am very eager and honored to help play a role in this exciting new adventure.”

Campbell had two decades of municipal political experience under his belt before becoming president, elected in 1950 to what is now the council of Niagara-on-the-Lake and serving as deputy warden, warden and reeve of Lincoln County.

After the three-year provincial nomination ended, regional councilors continued to nominate Campbell for president. He served for 16 years until his retirement in November 1985 and reportedly never missed a meeting.

The regional headquarters was named The John E. Campbell Building in his honor and a plaque bearing the name was unveiled in 1990. Campbell died in November 1994.

Q: Regarding: Giant cell phone planted in Montebello, The Standard, July 26, 2018. I’m just curious where the images go when you take a picture on the screen. Is there a website?

A: Sending a selfie using the “giant cell phone” in St. Catharines’ Montebello Park is similar to a pocket phone.

St. Catharines Chief Information Technology Officer Karthik Venkataraman said an on-screen keyboard pops up and gives the photographer the option to email or text the photo.

Bell last week unveiled the first of three smart kiosks in downtown St. Catharines that offer free Wi-Fi within 70 meters. The kiosk also has USB ports for free device charging, a 911 call button and city information.

Email your questions to Karena Walter at [email protected]; via Twitter @karena_standard or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/karenawalter

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