Earl Rowe Park Management Plan Amendment

Earl Rowe Provincial Park Management Plan Minor Amendment


A minor amendment to the Earl Rowe Provincial Park Management Plan (1985) was recommended in order to permit the demolition and removal of the Meadowbrook Schoolhouse from Earl Rowe Provincial Park.


The one-room Meadowbrook School, circa 1873, was destroyed by fire in 1899 and rebuilt on the same site. Prior to 1937, the school also provided a venue to host Christmas concerts and Fall fairs. Students grew vegetables and flowers at home and brought these along with various farm animals to be judged. In addition to the farm displays, there were organized games, public speaking contests and other activities. The school was closed from 1937 to 1945 as a result of low student enrollment. In 1948, the five schools in South Tosorontio became the Township School Area of Tosorontio South. This amalgamation resulted in a further decline in enrollment ultimately leading to the closure of the school in the mid-1960's. The school property was acquired for park purposes in the 1960's and is situated within the development zone of the park (see Figure 1). The building had been used for park storage up until the late 1990's. It was recognized as early as 1983 that the schoolhouse was in a dire state of disrepair and would require considerable capital investment to even slow down the rate of deterioration, let alone attempt to restore the building. The building is now vacant and has been repeatedly vandalized. The building is now considered a safety hazard.

The Heritage Appreciation Objective, section 3.3.2 (page 5) of the approved park management plan, stated:

The heritage appreciation objective of this park is to provide a range of self-use opportunities for the exploration, interpretation and appreciation of the natural features and cultural resources of the park. …Cultural features include the Meadowbrook school .....

In addition, the Protection Objective, section 3.3.4 (page 5), indicated that:

The protection objective of this park is to protect the natural and cultural resources of the park through zoning that reflects the particular resource management needs of an area as well as being aware of the recreational pressures placed on these resources. Resources worthy of protection include …the Meadowbrook school and

Furthermore, Zone and Zone Policies, section 3.4.1 Development highlighted that:

…the historic Meadowbrook school, is located in this [Development] zone and highlights the following policy;

Figure 1. Existing Facilities

Existing Facilities

Enlarge: Figure 1. Existing Facilities

To protect and maintain as much as possible the cultural resource [Meadowbrook School] found in this zone.

Lastly, Cultural Resource Management, section 4.4 (page 9), of the plan indicated:

If funding and priorities permit appropriate maintenance measurements may be taken, as required, to protect the Meadowbrook school from further deterioration.

Prior to initiating this minor amendment, a number of alternatives were considered by park staff. These included:

  • Do nothing/status quo and allow continued deterioration;
  • Conduct short term repairs and control unauthorized access;
  • Undertake an architectural assessment towards major restoration or rebuilding (or demolition based on expense or degraded status of building); and
  • Amend the park management plan and demolish the building.

Although no formal architectural assessment was undertaken, the attached photographs (Appendix A) clearly indicate severe structural damage including crumbling foundation, major wall slumping, forced entry and vandalism, and leaking roof, all of which contribute to a high potential of collapse. As a result, capital investment in the Meadowbrook Schoolhouse was not considered feasible due to the structure’s high degree of deterioration. This deterioration contributed to the schoolhouse becoming structurally unsafe thus posing a potential threat to public safety. It is presumed that repairs, even if possible, would be at a considerably high cost.


It is recommended that the Earl Rowe Provincial Park Management Plan be amended to remove the general references to the Meadowbrook Schoolhouse and the specific policies, as aforementioned, that pertain to the structure. These changes shall constitute a minor amendment to the Earl Rowe Park Management Plan. With the approval of this minor amendment, direction will be provided that, due to the present state of deterioration and associated risks to public health and safety, the Meadowbrook School will be demolished and removed from the park. Approval is subject to the following monitoring and mitigation requirements:


  • Review the park asset inventory system and update as required;
  • Review of past park safety audits completed on the schoolhouse;
  • Check MOE water well records for any evidence of a well(s) on site;
  • Survey resident bat population to determine presence, numbers and absence of rare species;
  • Review school board records for additional background information on schoolhouse;
  • Review county museum and archive records for additional background information on schoolhouse;
  • Create a photo record of the schoolhouse exterior and interior to be kept on file and made available to interested individuals and/or stakeholders;
  • Monitor demolition, and site clean-up and rehabilitation to ensure public safety and compliance with pertinent legislation and regulations; and
  • Periodically monitor site recovery following rehabilitation.


  • Remove any remaining fixtures of cultural value and either store in an appropriate manner in the park or turn over to a museum;
  • Install bat boxes in the immediate area;
  • Advise demolition crew, and neighbours, of guano presence to ensure that proper safety measures are taken when demolition proceeds;
  • Proceed with demolition when doing so would least impact the resident bat population;
  • Take appropriate measures to ensure public safety during demolition and clean-up;
  • Where possible, any recovered building materials will be recycled;
  • Plug any water well(s) discovered on site;
  • Undertake post-demolition site rehabilitation (e.g., seeding/planting native grass species);
  • Install a suitable historic plaque and cairn designed from recovered stone/brick work and arrange a post-demolition dedication ceremony;

Public Consultation and Environmental Assessment

Pre-consultation with the Town of Alliston Historical Society and the Dufferin County Museum and Archives occurred approximately 5 to 6 years ago to determine any potential interest in the building and to determine if there are any potential issues with removing the structure. Park staff did not receive any comments as part of this initial consultation.

In accordance with the Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves (Class EA), this project was screened to determine the appropriate level of detail and consultation required. Ontario Parks' staff seeped the proposed project by reviewing the extent of planning and consultation conducted to date and conducted a screening exercise to determine both potential positive and negative environmental effects of the proposed project. As a result of this seeping process, it was decided that this project would be classified as a Category A project under the Class EA. At least 30 days in advance of construction:

  • A copy of the draft plan amendment was mailed to those with a potential interest in the project (e.g., adjacent landowners, Adjala-Tosorontio Township, Simcoe County, Town of Alliston Historical Society, Simcoe County Museum, and Simcoe County School Board, etc.);
  • A paid advertisement was placed in the local newspaper;
  • A notice of the proposed development was posted on site;
  • A copy of the draft amendment and any pertinent additional information relating to the project was made available to the public upon request for examination at the Earl Rowe Provincial Park office.

Upon conclusion of the 30-day consultation period (October 19 - November 18, 2005), all comments received were reviewed and considered prior to approval of the amendment. During this period one comment was received in support of demolition and removal of the Meadowbrook Schoolhouse. No other comments were submitted.

Copies of the approved amendment will be retained on file and made available to the public upon request. The approved minor amendment will also be appended to existing copies of the Earl Rowe Provincial Park Management Plan.

Approval Statement

This minor amendment to the Earl Rowe Provincial Park Management Plan is approved in order to permit the demolition and removal of the Meadowbrook Schoolhouse from Earl Rowe Provincial Park.

Approved by:

Robert Owen, Park Superintendent
Earl Rowe Provincial Park

Date: November 24, 2005

Peter Sturdy, Zone Manager
Southwest Zone, Ontario Parks

Date: Nov, 30, 2005

Prepared by:

Tim Marchand, Assistant Park Planner
Southwest Zone, Ontario Parks

Appendix A:

Meadowbrook Schoolhouse - Current State 1

First image of the current state of Meadowbrook Schoolhouse

Enlarge: Meadowbrook Schoolhouse - Current State

Meadowbrook Schoolhouse - Current State 2

Second image of the current state of Meadowbrook Schoolhouse

Enlarge: Meadowbrook Schoolhouse - Current State 2

Meadowbrook Schoolhouse - Current State 3

Third image of the current state of Meadowbrook Schoolhouse

Enlarge: Meadowbrook Schoolhouse - Current State 3