Two years after Pointe-Claire’s signature windmill was badly damaged in a windstorm , the city is asking the provincial government to help with its restoration.
The 312-year-old windmill is Pointe-Claire’s civic symbol, gracing everything from the city water tower to its municipal website. But the structure has sat in a state of disrepair since two of its four blades snapped off during a storm on Nov. 1, 2019. A subsequent city inspection deemed the structure safe at that time, but a fence was later put around the base of the crumbling structure.
The city has long claimed its hands are tied when it comes to repairs because the windmill sits on waterfront property owned by the Catholic Diocese of Montreal. Although the windmill and adjacent convent are on the property of St-Joachim Parish, the La Pointe area of Pointe-Claire has heritage protection.
Pointe-Claire council passed a motion Tuesday to request the intervention of Quebec’s ministry of culture and communications “to ensure the preservation and restoration of the old Pointe-Claire windmill.”
Pointe-Claire Mayor John Belvedere acknowledged the windmill, built in 1709, is in disrepair.
“It is showing wear and tear. We were well aware of it, but we have no legal right to it right now. We are close to an agreement (with the Diocese) but it just always seems to get delayed.”
Belvedere said the city is requesting the provincial government’s intervention while it awaits an elusive agreement with the Diocese.
“The purpose of this resolution is to get the government to step up and intervene in order to give us the tools we need in order to protect what is considered a very important part of Pointe-Claire.”
However, the Pointe-Claire Heritage Preservation Society (SSPPC) has long maintained the city has had a responsibility to help restore the windmill with or without taking ownership of the actual property.
“We at the SSPPC have indeed been calling on the city for over 10 years to invest in a restoration of the windmill,” Andrew Swidzinski, an executive with the heritage society, told the Montreal Gazette in 2019.
“Such an investment does not require that the city own the windmill. Beyond the powers which they enjoy under existing cultural protection legislation, many municipalities across Quebec are able to protect privately-owned heritage buildings through lease or servitude agreements or by subsidizing private owners to carry out restoration work under their supervision,” he said.