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Court decision green lights VPS demolition

The fate of Vineland Public School’s 1895 building was sealed Monday with the Ontario Superior Court’s ruling that work on Twenty Valley Public School can resume immediately.

Justice Richard Lococo dismissed Brett House’s application for the extension of an injunction preventing work on the 1895 portion of the former Vineland Public School building.

In dismissing the application, Justice Lococo stated that if the injunction order was granted, it would have been highly likely that students in the Town of Lincoln would have had nowhere to go come the first day of school.

“Yesterday afternoon the Ontario Superior Court ruled against our motion to the extend the temporary injunction against demolition of Vineland’s historic 1895 one-room school house that the Court issued on Tuesday, July 7th,” noted House, spokesman for Friends of Vineland Public School.

“As a result, we have ended our related application for judicial review of the earlier decisions rendered by the Town of Lincoln and the Province of Ontario against designation of the school house as an official municipal or provincial heritage site.”

Chair of the District School Board of Niagara’s Board of Trustees Sue Barnett said the Board is pleased with the ruling.

“Students, their families and the community have been anticipating this new school ever since the conclusion of the ARC in 2013. Our number one focus is to ensure they can begin learning inside the new Twenty Valley Public School on the first day of school on Sept. 8,” said Barnett.

On July 7 the courts issued an interim injunction, without notice to the school board or Town of Lincoln, preventing further work on the 1895 portion of the former Vineland building.

However, with the favourable decision granted, work can resume to support the goal of having Twenty Valley ready for students on the first day of school.

“While we are obviously deeply saddened that this will mean the permanent loss of this architecturally and culturally significant landmark, we are grateful to the Court for its thorough and careful consideration of our arguments in this case,” said House.

“We are also thankful for the wide support our efforts to save Vineland’s last public heritage building received from across our community.”

Cheryl Keddy-Scott, Trustee for Grimsby/Lincoln, said the Board has worked with the community to create a respectful and appropriate recognition of the school’s history.

“We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback for the design of the new school’s foyer, which includes a beautiful homage to the 1895 front façade of the Vineland schoolhouse,” said Keddy-Scott.

In his ruling, Justice Lococo stated that he took comfort that “the construction provided for preservation of the façade of the 1895 school house and its incorporation into the new school. In my view there was an appropriate balance of interest on the part of the school board, considering the heritage aspects of the town and the educational needs of students.”

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