Sundridge council seeks heritage designation for oldest building in town

·3 min read

Sundridge council wants the oldest building in the community to receive heritage designation status and has begun the process to achieve that end. The home in question is the former Steirerhut Restaurant Schnitzel House, known to locals as The Castle because of it's appearance. Mayor Lyle Hall says when people Google Sundridge, one of the images displayed is “The Castle..” An online search of the restaurant shows that it's now permanently closed. A short message explains what brought about the closure. Hall says the Non-Profit Organization for Almaguin Housing (NOAH), owns the building. If “The Castle” receives heritage designation, the current owners face restrictions on what can be done to the building. Additionally, if the building is sold, the new owners would be required to maintain it. Deputy Mayor Shawn Jackson said this could keep the building around for hundreds of years. Asked by Coun. Steve Hicks the kind of reaction the municipality should expect from NOAH, Hall said he believed the chairperson of the organization was not opposed to the idea. The council resolution aims to protect places in the community that have cultural value. An important section of the resolution states any changes to “The Castle” would have to be appropriately managed and the changes would have to reflect the heritage value of the property. The resolution also protects “The Castle” from demolition, extreme renovations and neglect. Coun. Fraser Williamson grew up in Brampton and has first-hand knowledge that heritage designations take time to be approved. Williamson told council colleagues that before moving to the Almaguin Highlands, “The Castle is something I always remember when I was driving through town. “I don't want it torn down,” Williamson said. In recent weeks “The Castle” has been mentioned as a potential building the municipality may consider purchasing as it looks to acquire properties with the goal of repurposing them or replacing them with other buildings that have multi-purposes. In order to receive heritage designation, “The Castle” will need to go through quite a few approval stages. One of those hoops is to determine that the building is even a candidate. The property also has to be researched and evaluated and, even when all this is done and the municipality serves official notice of its intention to seek heritage designation for the building, there is an opportunity for objections. Assuming the designation is granted, the last few steps for council are to pass a designation bylaw, followed by registering the property on both the municipal and provincial register. Council gave unanimous consent to the resolution and Coun. Barbara Belrose said she was pleased this was happening, adding “it should have been done a long time ago.” Belrose also hopes if and when the heritage designation takes place, a plaque can be erected at the building.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget

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