Province House is worth saving

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Wednesday brought us the news that at least two political leaders from this province are in Ottawa to discuss the future of Province House.

Infrastructure Renewal Minister Robert Vessey and Opposition Leader Steven Myers were speaking with their federal colleagues, ostensibly about who’s going to pay to repair Province House.

The venerable old building in the heart of Charlottetown has been the seat of democracy (and the primary source of entertainment) in this province since 1847 and it’s more than showing its age.

A report on the building’s structural safety, finished in May 2013 but only recently pried from the grips of the bureaucracy by good journalism, revealed that the building is downright unsafe these days.

Those problems ranged from serious structural issues like crumbling foundation walls to window frames that were only half painted.

The whole building has been closed since a huge chunk of plaster caved in near one of entrances. Prior to that incident, access had been restricted because of safety concerns.

Perhaps we should have expected something like this happening eventually – our ancestors did let Issac Smith design Province House.

Here’s an excerpt from the Park Canada’s history of the building:

“Although Smith had no formal architectural training, his work stands the test of time and comparison.”

Hmm.

Might be time for an update to that biography, Parks Canada – maybe a toning down of the timelessness of Smith’s work.

Joking aside, it’s our hope that Ottawa and Charlottetown come to some sort of arrangement to fund the repair of Province House.

The building is literally the cornerstone of our largest city and an important part of Island and Canadian heritage. Losing it would a shame.

We’re not saying “repair it any cost” mind you.

If it’s going to cost something ridiculous, like hundreds of millions of dollars or some other astronomical number, we’d have to revisit the issue.

But so long as a reasonable plan can be hammered out it’s our hope that our elected officials will find a way to do so.

We owe it to future generations of Islanders to at least try to save Province House.

So they can elect more entertainment … er, rather, leaders of our democracy. 

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