The cost of preserving history: Greater Sudbury and Temiskaming Shores debate future of 110-year-old buildings

The future of a couple of buildings from 1910 was on the table at city council meetings in northeastern Ontario Tuesday night.

Sudbury moves to designate Copper Cliff fire hall, New Liskeard library still up for debate

The City of Temiskaming Shores is considering selling the 110-year-old New Liskeard library, which is a designated heritage building (City of Temiskaming Shores )

The future of a couple of buildings from 1910 was on the table at city council meetings in northeastern Ontario Tuesday night. 

Temiskaming Shores city council was debating putting two former libraries up for sale. 

While the former library in Haileybury is itself nearly a century old, the focus was on the New Liskeard library built in 1910.

It is the city's only designated heritage building and one of the last remaining Carnegie libraries in northeastern Ontario. 

Betty Stone told the virtual public meeting that it was a "sad commentary" that council was moving ahead with the possible sale of these two libraries in the midst of a pandemic, when a proper in-person meeting can't be held.

She asked councillors to "look beyond the obvious" and find new opportunities for the old buildings.

Dick Farrell called in to to tell council that in uncertain times "the worst thing we can do is to get rid of one of the best assets we have."

Other citizens added their comments by Chatbox during the virtual meeting, urging the city to sell the former libraries and get "fair market value" for them.

"It comes down to taxpayers paying for the keep of these buildings," said Temiskaming Shores city councillor Mike McArthur. 

"We have a lot of buildings throughout the three towns and some of them are costing money and we're not even using them."

"We do a disservice to our taxpayers," countered city councillor Patricia Hewitt. 

"It's not just about money, it's about our community and keeping us all together."

Public comments on the possible sale are open until June 2, when the matter will be back before council.

Temiskaming Shores councillor Danny Whalen urged his colleagues not to rush the decision and to "do it right."

The former Copper Cliff fire hall, built in 1910, was listed as a heritage building two years ago, but its future is now in question as it needs $600,000 in repairs. (Erik White/CBC)

Greater Sudbury city council voted Tuesday to look at further protections for another building that went up in 1910.

The city listed the Copper Cliff fire hall as a heritage building in 2014 and then closed it to the public two years later in the face of a hefty repair bill.

It is now to be put up for sale and councillor Michael Vagnini pushed that the city begin of the process of making it a designated heritage building, meaning any future owner would need council's permission before demolishing or altering the brick structure.

"I realize that we aren't able to keep it in our inventory, but let's put some stipulations to the sale," he said.

Sudbury city council unanimously approved Vagnini's idea during a virtual meeting Tuesday, causing the councillor to  exclaim "Holy S**t!" and then apologize that he hadn't muted his microphone. 

About the Author

Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to


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