Alvinston sugar shack won’t be rebuilt

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The sugar shack at the A.W. Campbell Conservation Area will not be replaced.

The shack had been the showpiece of the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority’s display during the annual Alvinston Maple Syrup Festival for decades. Families could walk into the shed and see the sap being boiled as modern producers processed it.

But in 2016, the conservation authority tore the building down because it was deemed unsafe.

There was hope the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority Foundation would help rebuild the iconic building, but foundation member Norm Giffen says that won’t happen.

Giffen was saddened when the original building had to be taken down. “I hated to see what was there go but when we had a look at it, it was a safety hazard.”

And he says the foundation just couldn’t justify the cost for rebuilding the shack.

It was estimated it would have cost $30,000 to replicate what was on the site.

“Should we spend all our money for something that is for use just two days of the year,” asks Giffen “or do we put the money into other projects that also do good?”

Giffen says the foundation gets request for funding for all kinds of projects and it provides annual scholarships to students as well.

So, the conservation authority will continue to host the Maple Syrup festival, talking about the traditional methods of making syrup but without bringing people into the old sugar shack.

Brooke-Alvinston Councillor Frank Nemcek, who is on the conservation authority board, understands the decision.

“Its about money. It’s only one week in the year and is that justified for one week in the year?” he asks. “Does it justify itself when money is so tight?

“The bottom line is money and it is hard  to get money for a small project anymore.”

Still, he is disappointed by the move saying generations of people have been to the sugar shack with their children over the years.

But he says losing the A.W. Campbell sugar shack is a lesson in conservation.

“Once it is gone, it is hard to get it back,” says Nemcek.

“We have to keep what we have.”

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