The ACO (Architecture Conservancy Ontario) is continuing to try to preserve the Sidbrook building at 411 King East (photo below). In June 2015, they wrote to Council asking that they ensure full compliance with Property Standards but the ACO now says that they are now taking a multi-pronged approach. Right now though, the roof needs major repairs. In a presentation to Council on February 5th, Gail Rayment asked the Town to force the owner to make repairs. Director Glenn McGlashon responded that the Town is in fact pursuing legal options to force immediate repairs by the owner he but did not divulge any details. The building has been empty since 2002 and apart from a few forced repairs and a quick coat of paint some years ago, it is in fact gradually being demolished by neglect. If this is allowed to happen, the ACO is concerned that this would “signal other owners of [heritage] buildings at risk that ‘demolition by neglect’ works in Cobourg.”
Also in June 2015, the Heritage Advisory committee wrote a long memo on the same subject but it seems little was accomplished at that time.
One of the problems is that there have been multiple changes in ownership and it has been hard to determine who the current owner is. Both the Town and the ACO feel that they now know who it is but again would not give a name. The ACO are trying to go public on the issue with an article in the Globe and Mail and they believe that if they “could arrange an introduction from the right developer to the property owners, then Sidbrook would have a second chance.
Sidbrook was designed by the same architect that designed Victoria Hall (Tivas Tully) and is considered one of Cobourg’s major heritage properties. (More on this at the Cobourg History site)
Gail started her presentation with the observation that in 1971, Victoria Hall was declared structurally unfit for occupation so the council of the day decided to demolish it and create a car park. That then triggered the restoration effort which resulted in its preservation. The implication is that there should be a similar effort to preserve Sidbrook.