Quebec Culture Minister Nathalie Roy, wishing to avoid a repetition of the demolition of a structure perceived as culturally important, moved quickly on Thursday to issue a 30-day stay against the demolition of a Dominican monastery in Berthierville.
The order, Roy said, will allow experts from the ministry to determine the heritage value of the monastery, which was reportedly put up for sale because the Dominicans could no longer afford the building’s maintenance costs.
The entrepreneur who purchased the building was granted a demolition permit by the city of Berthierville despite the opposition of the regional municipal authority, which argued the building is part of Quebec’s religious heritage.
Roy said she acted quickly after learning about the imminent demolition in news reports.
She said she communicated immediately with Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx and Municipal Affairs Minister Andrée Laforest to find a solution.
Roy said she then asked her staff: “What can we do to avoid that a building of such beauty, of such architecture, with so much history, that is part of our Quebec-built heritage fall (to) … demolition?”
Her reply came in the form of a regulation that allows a 30-day stay to be issued if “there is a real or perceived threat” that a building of possible heritage value could suffer severe damage.
The developer, who planned to use the land occupied by the monastery for residential development, has 10 days to argue against the order.
Roy’s haste is explained in part by the demolition of the Maison Boileau, which was bulldozed last November in Chambly to the dismay of some historians who argued the house was of cultural significance.