This historic building in Sutton is falling apart and community groups are facing eviction

Six different community organizations in Sutton, including a library, are facing eviction from their crumbling building.

The John Sleeth Centre is one of the town's oldest building, having been erected in 1886. Originally Sutton's school, it now hosts a daycare, an art gallery and the 72-year-old library.

“It was founded by people coming back from war and wanting to read. They started exchanging books because there were no librairies,” said librarian Louise Hawley.

For years, the tenants have asked the town to invest in maintenance and renovation, but little was done. Last month, all six tenants were told they have until September to vacate.

“If they do that to us, they're actually killing a library, an art gallery, a (daycare),” said Hawley. “They're destroying community services.”

Hawley said moving is not an option as rent in Sutton has risen dramatically and the library has no revenue. A youth centre for at-risk teens that has operated in the building for 20 years is also at risk of closing if forced to move.

Ann Dyer, whose family has lived in Sutton for more than 200 years, said she's worried the town plans to replace the John Sleeth Centre with a new cultural centre.

“Those are our community service people, who help many people in Sutton and it's our money and heritage,” she said. “We don't have all that many historical buildings here. It'd be nice not to lose that one.”

This week, the town released reports showing the building requires major repairs. Mayor Michel Lafrance said the centre is “nearing the end of its useful life.”

Lafrance said the town will consult with the public before moving forward with plans for the building's future, but maintained the tenants will need to be out by September.

“We will assist them and communicate with them and be there for them to help relocate,” he said. “We will not leave them holding the bag.” 

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