Nfld. & Labrador

Bryn Mawr petition presses St. John's city council to save building

More than 1,600 people want the building slated for demolition to be protected through a heritage designation.

1,600 signatures hope to sway the city to preserve heritage home

The private owner of Bryn Mawr, a heritage home on New Cove Road in St. John's, has applied to the city for a demolition permit. City council voted Monday to designate it a heritage building, within the 90 days it has to make a decision on the demolition permit. (CBC)

A petition with more than 1,600 signatures was presented at St. John's city council Tuesday night, as people sought to make their voices heard in an effort to save the historic Bryn Mawr property.

"The prayer of the petition basically is to dedicate it a heritage property," said Coun. Sheilagh O'Leary, who brought forward the petition, organized by the Newfoundland and Labrador Historic Trust.

The owner of the nearly 110-year-old home on New Cove Road, also known as Baird Cottage, has applied to the city for its demolition.

O'Leary presented the petition Tuesday night on behalf of residents in her ward. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

In turn, the city voted April 12 to consider giving the home a protective heritage status.

"We as a city have a huge responsibility. We are the people who are the keepers of the oldest city in North America," said O'Leary.

"I think it is imperative on us as well to have a role to play, to create incentives for people to maintain those properties."

But not everyone at council agreed with O'Leary's sentiments.

Taxpayer burden

Coun. Wally Collins said while the Historic Trust does great work, there should be a bigger onus on the organization to take steps and save Bryn Mawr.

"How come they don't fundraise? There's lots of people in this city that would give them money to save these buildings," he said.

Coun. Wally Collins and Coun. Sheilagh O'Leary voiced different opinions on the fate of Bryn Mawr. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Collins worries council's involvement in this property will set a precedent for other threatened heritage homes in the city, putting a burden on taxpayers.

"You know this is going to happen every six months or every year," he warned.

O'Leary agreed there needs to be a procedure in place for the city to follow when it comes to heritage structures, although Bryn Mawr's fate will likely come down to political will.

"Hopefully, in the future, we will not have to go to a political decision on these properties," she said.

"We need to have those regulations in hand so that moving forward we can actually make these decisions because they are on the books." 

With files from Jeremy Eaton

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