Committee votes to remove building from heritage resources list

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The old M.B. McEachren elementary school moved closer to the wrecking ball Monday, only a year after London politicians voted to preserve the site as a heritage property.

A city committee voted to withdraw it as a site worthy of heritage designation, even though the city placed the school at 4402 Col. Talbot Rd. on the intent to designate list in May 2016.

Ward 9 Coun. Anna Hopkins, in an emotional address to the planning and environment committee, said she wants to save the building but has heard overwhelming support from constituents to tear it down for a new health centre.

“I respect heritage very much and what the community says. My dilemma is I heard over and over they wanted a new building. It is too bad when it comes into conflict with my values and what we have done as a council,” said Hopkins. “I cant ignore that.”

Benjamin Vazquez, vice-chairperson Local Advisory Committee on Heritage, agreed McEachren is no architectural gem.

“If we were to see that building downtown, or in Old East Village, I would happily argue it should be demolished, but Lambeth has few heritage buildings, there is little left there.”

The loss of the school means Lambeth’s history of a once independent village, before it became a London suburb, is at risk, he added.

“It needs heritage to be a marker of that. It is regrettable.”

Coun. Maureen Cassidy and Mayor Matt Brown supported removing the school from heritage designation.

The school is listed on the inventory of heritage resources and the move to remove it will go to full council.

At committee, Coun. Jesse Helmer voted to keep the school on the heritage list.

“Nothing has changed in the heritage value of this building. We want to conserve the heritage resources we have,” said Helmer.

He wants the building saved and incorporated into the new medical centre.

Coun. Stephen Turner agreed: “I see no reason not to maintain the decision we made a year ago.”

The school was built in 1925 and declared surplus by the Thames Valley District school board in 2010. It was sold to its present ­owner, the Lambeth Health Organization, in 2015. In 2016, the city ­received notice of the owner’s ­intention to demolish the ­building and build a medical centre.

Staff wants the building saved, a request supported by a ­report from LACH that singled out “the north, west and south facade of the 1925 portion of the building” as significant. 

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