Council approves relocation of Holding Court statue

EASTBOUND - The statue Sir John A. MacDonald 'Holding Court' is being moved a few metres east at the request of the new owner of the Armoury property. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

SARAH WILLIAMS

STAFF WRITER

Prince Edward County council has approved a motion to move the easement where the Sir John A. MacDonald  statue currently resides on the Armoury property, owned by TGSL Holdings Inc., to adjacent Picton Library grounds.

According to a municipal staff report tabled with the motion Tuesday evening, consultation with the board and staff of the Picton Public Library, the statue donors (David Warrick on behalf of the John A. MacDonald Project) and the sculptor, Ruth Abernethy, “The Holding Court” statue will be moved a short distance east to the western forecourt (front) of the municipally-owned library.
The costs associated with this move will be absorbed by TGSL Holdings Inc. The Picton Public Library has agreed to cover any subsequent, elective costs associated with the move of the easement to that property.
The owners of the Armoury have requested the “Holding Court” sculpture be moved to allow for a large landscaping project that will encompass the entire frontal property of TGSL Holdings Inc., and extending onto adjacent municipal property occupied by the Picton Public Library.
According to the supporting report, municipal staff have reviewed the request to transfer, release and abandon any interest in the small section of 206 Main Street, Picton and believe the Municipality does not need to retain interest in the subject property as it will no longer occupy the “Holding Court” statue.
Without releasing the easement, the owners of the Armoury would be unable to move forward with their planned landscaping project.
At Tuesday evening’s council meeting at Shire Hall, councillor Brad Nieman questioned why the Armoury, owned by a private corporation, was being allowed to move a portion of their landscaping project onto municipal property.
Neil Carbone, Director of Community Development and Strategic Initiatives, explained the negotiations between the library and the Armoury are separate from the statue
“A really big chunk of what appears to be the Armoury front yard is actually the library property. By the library allowing them to do that, it’s a benefit to the library because it actually improves their ability to use that as public space, which actually makes up for some of the seating and public space that will be lost with the relocation of the statue to the front of the library,” Carbone said. “It is honestly simpler to have the statue on municipal property as opposed to on someone else’s property. We also see the benefit to the community of the landscaping they are proposing to do there and of the arrangement this facilitates with the library, because it actually improves the library’s outdoor public space.”
By the closing of the council meeting on Tuesday, staff had reviewed the applicable policies and had no objections to close, declare surplus and quit claim the subject property to provide the release and abandonment of the easement.
The “Holding Court” sculpture has stood on the lawn of the Armoury since it was gifted to the town in 2015.
Carbone mentioned the ‘Holding Court’  was gifted to the municipality by Sir John A. MacDonald Project organizers with the understanding it would be placed in a prominent place in downtown Picton where it would be easily accessed by visitors and the local public.
The director added the statue was placed in 2015 when the Armoury was owned by another entity and there was no plans for massive change to the building’s facade and front grounds