Glengarry County Archives hits money bump; South Glengarry grants emergency loan

The future home of the Glengarry County Archives on Kenyon Street East in Alexandria, Ont. South Glengarry and North Glengarry have both been asked for an emergency loan and top-up funding to cover off a budget shortfall in the $410,000 reconstruction project. The fundraising group for the renovations already raised $240,000. (North Glengarry via Newswatch Group, File)

LANCASTER – South Glengarry council has granted an emergency loan to the Glengarry County Archives for the renovation of its new building.

Fixing up the historical Macdonell House in Alexandria is running into some money trouble due to the project manager’s inability to fund raise during the coronavirus pandemic.

Up until this point the group has been ambitious and raised $240,000 in the community toward the $410,000 renovation. It also received a $32,400 Ontario Trillium Foundation grant in March. A report says the structural work is done and the stone work is almost complete on the building at 28 Kenyon Street East.

South Glengarry and North Glengarry bought the building last year for $140,000. Both townships committed $35,000 in their budgets this year for the construction.

South Glengarry council authorized an emergency loan for $21,000 last night (Monday) and an upcoming report for the next council meeting will address the group’s request for a top-up of $26,000 to make up for a budget shortfall.

The archives made the request to both townships for the $21,000 loan and the $26,000 in top-up funding.

The fundraising group plans to pay back the loan through its HST refund, a committed pledge to come through, and rent forgiveness when the archives cancels its lease with the Upper Canada District School Board for its current home at Glengarry District High School.

On Monday night, many South Glengarry councillors had no issue with the loan but were taking a wait-and-see approach on extra funding.

Coun. Martin Lang said he was leaning toward both. “I’d like to see this project get finished,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Lyle Warden agreed and said there had been a “significant commitment from the community.”

Coun. Stephanie Jaworski had some reservations, calling the request a “significant increase in funds” and wanted to see the staff report, with specific details of “what didn’t come through” for the fundraising group.

In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch, North Glengarry Mayor Jamie MacDonald says his council is “likely on the same page” as South Glengarry. The council meets tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday) to deal with budget adjustments to address coronavirus fallout.

“(As) one of the oldest buildings in Alexandria or North Glengarry for that matter, and that we’re going to have an archive that’s going to be a beautiful place, I think we’ve gotten off quite easy at the end of the day, we’re going to have a great facility for all of Glengarry.”

MacDonald says people need to understand that the townships have a legislative responsibility to store the material and keep it safe – in some cases, forever. But those records have paid off.

“We’ve had a couple of issues that came up and Allan (County Archivist Allan J. MacDonald) was able to find, track back, something for planning issues or a severance that was done a long time ago, to find title. I think at the end of the day we’ll fund it.”

Construction is able to continue through the pandemic because it Glengarry County Archives are considered an essential project under the Ontario coronavirus rules.

It was anticipated that the archives would have an opening ceremony this fall but due to social distancing rules that likely won’t happen until some time next year.

“I can’t wait for it to open because people will be very surprised. The outside of the building looks amazing. It had this white stucco on it with this beautiful stone right underneath it. Hard to believe so, it looks great!” MacDonald exclaimed.

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