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LETTER: Historic hospital should be saved

Mayor and city council have failed by not protecting Avon Crest, says letter writer
Work continues on the demolition of Avon Crest on Thursday.

StratfordToday received the following Letter to the Editor after demolition of the city's first hospital, Avon Crest, started this week. 

To City Council:

The Stratford municipal government, Mayor Ritsma and councillors have failed the citizens by not protecting our historic Avon Crest Stratford, a city that supposedly takes pride in heritage will finally re-purpose the Grand Trunk property, after it was threatened with demolition three times.

It was the citizens who fought to keep the GTR, this important historic building, not council. The best of Stratford has been preserved over the generations by citizens against their councils. There are many well-known examples.

This mayor and council have failed to protect Avon Crest, which is tied to the GTR through joint deep history. Influenced by Florence Nightingale and so progressive at the time that it changed the way health care was given all over Canada.

It is of national importance.

This mayor and council accepted the unacceptable. Demolition of our heritage. Shame.

This mayor and council ignored their responsibility to protect Avon Crest, a valuable asset built through the efforts of citizens and given in good faith to SGH.

This council and mayor did not stop it being turned over to this corporation. Shame.

This mayor and council have failed in their responsibility to communicate with and consult citizens even though there were two public meetings with experts in heritage giving important information and advice. Shame.

Stratford has been lucky over the years to have so many aware, alert, wise and involved citizens who have been the ones who actually protected this city’s character, usually in spite of council.

There is a chance for redemption. Fight, with your citizens, to preserve the front historic section of Avon Crest. This will keep the presence of our important heritage building alive. You can slow down the irresponsible destruction of our solid historic building with a vote of heritage designation. Work to convince the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance and Revera to preserve this lovely heritage front. Use your power instead of accepting your powerlessness to save the front part of Avon Crest.

Be heroic.

The citizens had a voice only through the Save Avon Crest group and vigils. There were 113 vigils where the responses were counted and recorded. The number of responses to the vigil: 23,132 and of those responses 22,243 agreed to save. You really need to respect and listen to these citizens. Vote to designate. Be brave and preserve the character of Stratford, for our deep history as embodied by Avon Crest. Do not risk deep regret after if it is totally destroyed, which would be shameful and a miserable failure of this mayor and council to protect our city.

Heart broken and angry like so many citizens,

Leslie Walker