Council members voted to put the demolition of the former Supertest service centre in St. George on hold at their council meeting on Tuesday, March 22.
Plans for the property at 2 Beverly Street, which the County of Brant purchased in June 2021 for $730,000, were discussed at the Administration and Operations Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 15.
Council members originally planned to demolish the building to create more parking for the town of St. George, but Councillor John MacAlpine sparked a conversation about the value in saving the building.
“There is a possibility to create a townsquare here in the community and it is right on the main intersection,” he said.
The plan proposed by Councillor MacAlpine would see the St. George Garden Club use the existing building as an office with parking, washrooms, benches and green space that they would maintain for the community and visitors to enjoy.
The space would be able to accommodate markets for local farmers and crafters, as well as add space for existing events like St. George’s Applefest.
The St. George Business Improvement Association showed their support for the plan brought forward by Councillor MacAlpine, which Councillor John Bell acknowledged should not be taken lightly.
“The BIA has come out in support of this,” he said. “I sit on the BIA in Paris and I would like to think that if the Paris BIA made a recommendation to council that we’d treat it very seriously. I think it’s really important that we don’t dismiss their support.”
The original plan was set to demolish the building to create 24 new parking spaces in St. George, but Councillor MacAlpine said that they could see the same number of spaces if the building is saved.
Councillor MacAlpine was not allowed to speak on the subject at the Administration and Operations committee, being suggested as a conflict of interest in the matter after signing a petition in support of saving the building. After determining that there was no financial gain for providing his support to the petition, he was able to share his thoughts on the subject at the council meeting.
Councillor Marc LaFerriere was also not able to speak on the matter as he was absent from the committee meeting, but he shared that he would also be willing to spend a little more time exploring the options for the property.
“I think there is merit to this proposal,” he said. “I like this idea, but I’m almost not ready to vote either way because I think there is also merit to the proposed parking lot.”
Councillor MacAlpine also raised the question of the historical significance of the building, with the possibility of it becoming a tourist destination. He said that there could be a number of opportunities for funding to save the building with more research.
Council members voted to refer the matter back to staff and the Administration and Operations committee for one cycle to determine the fate of the property.