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  • ESSEX FREE PRESS

Birds Canada grant helps repair Colchester Schoolhouse chimney


by Sylene Argent

The Colchester Schoolhouse chimney has been repaired, thanks to support from the Town of Essex and a Bird’s Canada grant.

At the December 19 Essex Council meeting, Perry Basden, President of Heritage Colchester, approached Council to announce the chimney repairs have been completed on the 1881 Colchester Schoolhouse.

Basden explained the 1952 chimney – a roosting site for Chimney Swifts – was in disrepair. It hasn’t been used for many years.

Chimney Swifts are threatened under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. The work had to be completed by February of 2023, while the Chimney Swifts were south. The restoration was completed in early December, Basden added.

At the August 4 regular meeting, Council of the day approved repairs to Colchester School House chimney in the amount of $29,945. Half of the cost came from Birds Canada’s “Chimney Swift Chimney Restoration Fund,” and the other half came from the Town’s Asset Management Reserve.

The chimney was beyond its lifecycle and could have created a safety issue if it continued to deteriorate.

Heritage Colchester is required, through the grant application, to monitor and report on the Chimney Swifts over the next five-years, and will file those reports with Swift Watch Ontario.

Those interested in becoming a member of Heritage Colchester can log onto www.heritagecolchester.ca to learn more about the group, which was formed in 2021. The group is incorporated as a non-profit with the Province of Ontario and is planning the Colchester Schoolhouse’s restoration.

In November of 2021, Council entered into a lease agreement with Heritage Colchester to operate the Colchester Schoolhouse for ten-years, commencing December 1, 2021.

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