By Doug Hallett
City council has approved the demolition of a house on Water Street facing onto Royal City Park. It is in an area slated to become the city’s first heritage conservation district.
However, a demolition on College Avenue that also got council’s approval Monday is of more concern for Heritage Guelph, the city’s heritage advisory committee. The city has no real power over what happens at this property, council was told.
Heritage Guelph has no objections to the demolition of 76 Water St., as the existing dwelling has little or no cultural heritage value, says a city staff report. It will be replaced by a three-storey dwelling.
Heritage Guelph has serious concerns, though, about the demolition of 33 College Ave. W., located west of Gordon Street between Borden and Caledonia streets.
The current house at 33 College was built in the late 1880s. It is recognized by the city as “a built heritage resource,” even though it’s not on the city’s official registry of cultural heritage properties, says a city staff report. The property is outside the proposed boundaries of the Brooklyn and College Hill Heritage Conservation District. Heritage Guelph notes that “much of the upper gingerbread on the porch” of the house on College is in “relatively good shape,” and it objects to plans to put a garage at the front of a replacement house, the report says.
Heritage Guelph has passed a motion calling for a replacement dwelling to “reflect the massing, porch and the front doors and windows” of the existing house on College. The motion, which calls for any parking or garage to be at the rear of the lot, also urges that the material to be used on the front and sides of the replacement house reflect the look of the existing house.
Based on Heritage Guelph’s motion, city planning staff have recommended that the owner reconsider the proposed concept for a replacement dwelling. However, Heritage Guelph and city hall don’t have the power to set conditions or otherwise restrict the demolition of a building that’s not listed or designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, the report says.
While city staff support the advice being offered in this case by Heritage Guelph, “it is only something that staff can support and recommend,” said Todd Salter, the city’s general manager of planning services. “It cannot be required” of the owner of the property on College Avenue
The house on Water Street is on a prominent lot within the proposed Brooklyn and College Hill Heritage Conservation District, the report says. At a meeting last month, Heritage Guelph provided advice on the design of the replacement house.
Coun. Leanne Piper, who expressed concerns about the potential scale of the replacement house, was the only council member who voted Monday against issuing a demolition permit for the Water Street house.
If a heritage district is approved in the area, city hall will be in a position to do more than just offer advice from Heritage Guelph in such situations, Salter told council.
Without debate, council also approved the demolition of 78 Emma St. The owner wants to replace the house, which has no heritage value, with a two-storey house with an attached single-car garage at the front.
By Doug Hallett