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At least they tried

There will be some sadness when the city demolishes the north end’s Wilson farmhouse.

But there won’t be anything approaching the lingering bitterness that followed council’s 2005 decision to allow demolition of the west end’s Mitchell farmhouse.

In allowing demolition of the Mitchell farmhouse to make future commercial development of the area a bit easier, council ignored pleas from its own planning staff not to do it.

It also ignored a plea from Coun. Gloria Kovach, who called the Mitchell farmhouse – prominently perched on a hill – “a gateway to the community I represent.”

Kovach said her constituents wanted it preserved.

“It means an awful lot to my ward,” she said before ending up on the losing side of a 7-6 vote.

In the case of the Wilson farmhouse, Kovach was part of a solid majority voting for demolition.

And she was right this time too.

The time had come to end the anguish over what to do with the Wilson farmhouse, for which the city has been unsuccessfully trying to find a use for years.

It became evident at the May 21 council meeting that striking an ad hoc committee of council to scrutinize a couple of proposals for reuse of the farmhouse could have led to a lengthy Request for Proposals process.

The strong possibility loomed there wouldn’t be time for the current council to make a final decision on the farmhouse’s fate.

The proposals for reuse of the Wilson farmhouse that most intrigued council involved turning it partly into a facility showing city residents how to make their homes more energy-efficient – similar to the REEP House for Sustainable Living in Kitchener.

We agree with council members who said a REEP-like facility would be great in Guelph, but not in a north end subdivision next to a park.

A better place might be the Guelph Innovation District that includes the former provincial jail buildings.

The city certainly could have handled the Wilson farmhouse issue better over the years, but council made the right decision last week.

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