Demolition by Neglect

An architectural gem that is gradually being demolished by neglect is the property on King Street East known as Sidbrook.  It has been empty since 2002 and is in bad shape.  Efforts to force owners to keep it in good repair have gone nowhere  – see link below to my report in 2018 on “Stopping Demolition by Neglect”.  But now, there is another example and Council made it clear that they have no sympathy for owners who try to demolish by neglect.  At the Committee of the Whole (CoW) Meeting on Monday December 6, the owner of the property at 93 Albert Street asked the Town for permission to demolish the building because it’s in really bad shape but the Heritage Advisory Committee were against it and Council seemed to agree with them.  This despite the fact that Staff approved demolition in principle (final approval would need a satisfactory plan for a replacement).

Background

Sidbrook 2018
Sidbrook 2018

At the meeting, Mike Clark (one of the owners – see note below) – described himself as in the building business and said that he and his wife Laura LeBlanc purchased the property from the mortgage holder in 2020 with the intention of renovating it. (This paragraph revised 9 Dec 12:12 pm).

Apparently there has been no heat or hydro since 2000 and the final sale by bank foreclosure meant that the buyer had little time to look closely at the property.  Since then they followed required procedures and hired Engineers with Heritage knowledge who said the building was in bad shape but stopped short of recommending demolition – although demolition was implied by describing restoration as “challenging”. 

93 Albert
93 Albert

Councillors Emily Chorley and Nicole Beatty did not accept Mike Clark’s conclusion that restoration was not feasible nor did they accept Staff’s recommendation. According to Mike, if restoration were done, the only thing remaining would be the shell – a single layer of brick “siding”.  All footings, interior walls and support beams would have to be replaced since most are rotted through.  However, it was apparent that if demolition were not done, that the owners would do nothing.  But the two councillors were determined that owners of heritage properties would not get away with demolition by neglect – despite the fact that it seems the owners of Sidbrook are doing exactly that and that the house at 93 Albert was neglected by an earlier owner.

There was some discussion by Councillors of whether there was any enforcement of maintenance of these properties (there seems to be none) and how did the property get to this stage.  It is obviously not the fault of the current owner – it took more than a year to get to the current bad state. Mike also said he had been reassured by Planning staff at the time of purchase that the building had no Heritage issues although Rob Franklin disputes this.

Council generally seemed to support the Heritage Advisory Committee’s recommendation to deny permission to demolish but before Council voted, Councillor Brian Darling moved to refer the subject to the January 3 CoW Meeting.  Brian wanted more time to understand the issue and there was support for this so his motion passed.  Stay tuned for a decision in January.

Note / update from Owners of 93 Albert
LeBlanc Enterprises does not own this property. It is actually Laura Leblanc and her husband Mike Clark who purchased the property through their numbered corporation. They are employees of LeBlanc but also have their own building projects completely separate.

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Keith Oliver
17 December 2021 7:55 am

I took a walk around Sidbrook yesterday and the ground is littered with roof shingles which means the roof is well past its expected useful life and rainwater is getting in.

This is now an emergency! The time for navel gazing and debate on the future of this building is over!

Where is the the Architectural Conservancy on this? Why is the advisory committee not petitioning Council? Who in the Building Department has responsibility for this?

E-mail members of Town Council and demand action. Insist that the building be protected!

Or do we really care?

Last edited 6 months ago by Keith Oliver
Bryan
Reply to  Keith Oliver
17 December 2021 8:46 am

Keith,

Do what? and why?

Sidbrook is private property, a concept that seems to elude you. Until Sidbrook becomes a danger to the public, it is not the Town’s concern.
If you and the heritage group are so concerned, buy Sidbrook.

Last edited 6 months ago by Bryan
Keith Oliver
Reply to  Bryan
17 December 2021 11:29 am

Bryan Sometimes, physical things have more value than what they represent to their owner, and therefore the owner has a greater and wider responsibility, especially if they knew what they were getting into in the first place! In the case of Sidbrook it represents a unique period in the history of the Town. It is a reminder of how important Cobourg once was and a challenge to all in the present and in this time of great change, to make Cobourg great again. Our Town is small, roughly half the size of the typical Toronto neighbourhood. As a small community, and despite the difficulty of communicating with each other as our local media has disappeared, we have the ability to make things better by example. We communicate with each other in small ways. I’m impressed by how often we hold the door open for each other, say hello to those we don’t know personally. One objective could be to collectively take on the task of improving the quality-of-life for all. Affordable housing; a more effective way of integrating art and culture into our lives; better and more integrated land-use planning; things that none of us can imagine at this present time but will become more apparent with time. The saving of Victoria Hall from the wrecking ball; Venture 13; the CCC; easy access to Toronto and to the Lake could all represent what we already have and have accomplished. The first three represent a vision of a better future and the collective energy that could make it happen again. The flag of Canada in essence is just a piece of fabric, but it carries great meaning, represents an important history, and a vision or belief that we have in shaping a better future, values of the kind I’m trying to… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Keith Oliver
Bryan
Reply to  Keith Oliver
17 December 2021 1:40 pm

Keith,

Laudable objectives.
I agree that Victoria Hall was/is a notable historic building and worth saving.
You cited V13 and the CCC as examples of worthy public endeavors. Really!
V13 has not met its job and new business targets and is not likely to. Just as the former Idea Hub in Port Hope. And the annual cost to the local taxpayer: $200K and increasing.
The CCC is another money pit, costing Cobourgers $1.6M per year (2022 budget).
Yet somehow, private sector companies like CanLan Sports, operate similar facilities at a profit.

You wrote “…..Sidbrooke should be saved…..”.
Fine, but not at the taxpayer’s expense. You and the heritage groups that value Sidbrook so highly should step up and buy it.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Bryan
17 December 2021 2:59 pm

And also launch a fund-raising project and rally ‘the people’ to support the purchase. There are many more possible ways other than the undemocratic call that the owner be “forced to give it up.”

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Bryan
17 December 2021 3:47 pm

Keith, we waste about $195K each year on Venture13 with no clear benefits. We have decided to waste over $1M each year on additional “managers” with no clear benefits. We waste $175K each year on the Art Gallery of Northumberland with no clear benefits. Redirecting those amounts to Sidbrook would easily pay for its restoration and at no additional burden to the taxpayers.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Ken Strauss
17 December 2021 5:17 pm

Ken

As usual your criticism is based solely on costs and monetary returns but not other forms of benefit. Venture13 will soon come into its own as an asset that provides those who work from home to rent a few hours of office space a week, hold large meetings which include multi-media presentations, etc.

We’ve been through all this before in this and other blogs.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Keith Oliver
17 December 2021 6:39 pm

Keith, as usual your criticism is based solely on a misguided opinion that government should compete with private enterprise. If there is a need for short-term office space rental then such can be provided without government intervention. Wasting $195K of our tax dollars every year on the possibility of future needs is absurd.

Last edited 6 months ago by Ken Strauss
Keith Oliver
Reply to  Ken Strauss
19 December 2021 10:59 am

Ken

There are many needs on the part of the public that private enterprise does not respond to or fullfil. Private sources do not offer an alternative to what Venture13 has to offer stay-at-home workers, not even close. The variety of meeting rooms at one location for example which range from small to the one with banked seating for approximately 100 and sound and projection equipment.

Then there’s “housing affordable to all” where there is intense demand and no response from private enterprise. In fact the lack of adequate government intervention as caused housing to become an investment opportunity instead of a
readily available essential component to a normal, stable and healty life … like adequate food. Are you opposed to food banks?, subsidies to public transit?

The driving force behind the free enterprise economic system is the maximization of capital, pure and simple. As a result many needs that offer a lower rate of return are ignored.

In the end it’s our tax dollars that pay for the greater government services needed by those who cause sever social problems, ie most forms of crime including drug abuse, 90% of which are the result of the lack of stability and opportunity in their lives brought on by unfulfilled needs they cannot control.

What is needed is more effective and smarter government intervention in the economy, not less. Several of the Nordic countries do this and boast the highest overall standard of living in the world.

Frenchy
Reply to  Keith Oliver
17 December 2021 8:43 pm

Venture 13 is a sham, a bust, we’ve been sold a bill of goods.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Frenchy
20 December 2021 5:56 pm

Frenchy

Your problem embedied in your response is that you know little about Venture13 and your pentient to “shoot from the hip”, ie without reason or facts to back up your statements.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
20 December 2021 6:12 pm

Mr Oliver accused someone of arguing “without reason or facts to back up your statements.”

I have been wallowing in language all my life. It’s what poets do. I have never before encountered the word “pentient“. I Googled it and found it nowhere. Could you back up your statement containing the word, “pentient” by informing us all of what it means.

Last edited 6 months ago by Wally Keeler
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
20 December 2021 6:18 pm

Mr Oliver commented, “Your problem embedied [sic] in your response

Do you mean ‘problem embodied in your response?’
or
Do you mean ‘problem embedded in your response’?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Keith Oliver
20 December 2021 9:22 pm

Keith, as one who never argues without reason or facts to back up their statements nor shoots from the hip, I’m sure that you have a well researched rationale for your support of Venture13. Could you please provide a few details of Venture13’s accomplishments that warrant allocating $192,866 in this year’s operating budget and $204,352 in the 2021 budget?

Last edited 6 months ago by Ken Strauss
Frenchy
Reply to  Keith Oliver
21 December 2021 1:00 pm

Keith, can you name one Cobourg company or even one Cobourg job that was created through Venture13?

Kyle
Reply to  Frenchy
21 December 2021 5:57 pm

The Director of it no doubt has made out well.

Bryan
Reply to  Kyle
21 December 2021 6:22 pm

Kyle:
Director?
V13 originally was to report to the CAO. Now, I believe it is part of the Commercial and Economic Development department, which includes EcDev (economic development), tourism, Firehall Theatre, Dressler House and the Henley Arcade.
I believe this department reports to the CAO.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
17 December 2021 10:01 am

Mr Oliver commented, “I took a walk around Sidbrook yesterday

And did you obtain permission from the property owner to walk around on their property?

K. Carlaw
10 December 2021 6:49 pm

This article leaves me with so many questions. Have past and present elected officials used their time researching and establishing bylaws that would prevent buildings getting to this point (seems like the real issue here)? So many beautiful buildings in Cobourg, over the last century, have been affected. Does the perceived inaction by the town on the Sidbrook property (which appears to be a sincere hazard) exemplify this present potential bylaw black hole? Are buyers of these rotted and decayed properties unfairly held hostage by the present state of affairs? Do past and present town officials really understand the expense and scope of the work required to rebuild these rotted structures that have been without heat or hydro for decades? It seems as if this current builder has stumbled into a long existing mess. Here’s hoping that the town officials are able to successfully take steps to remedy the bigger issue here.

Middle-Aged-White-Guy
10 December 2021 2:17 pm

Grandpa used to keep all sorts of things. He had a barn full of odds and ends as well as a house full of other stuff. Before he passed, he gave away or sold off what was useful or valuable. What remained, was still a barn and most of a house full, but while he was alive he wouldn’t part with any of it because he thought it historical value, but in reality it was all left to his children and grand children to dispose of at the dump at quite a substantial personal cost.

We didn’t fault Grandpa, he was the way he was. The blame went to us, the family, who let him go so long accumulating all this stuff.

These old buildings are the same – Why should the town collect them, there really is no value to them other than some nostalgia factor that some want to maintain. Save the buildings worth saving like Victoria Hall, and let developers do what they do best and develop the town with modern buildings and infrastructure for the future. The In-fill houses being built in the downtown neighborhoods are spectacular and are a credit to to the fact that people want to invest dollars into Cobourg!

JimT
Reply to  Middle-Aged-White-Guy
11 December 2021 12:22 pm

I agree.

So tell us: where are these “spectacular” in-fill houses? I’d like to have a look at them.

Keith Oliver
10 December 2021 10:42 am

The main concern that posts to this blog should address is not who should or should not mandate or pay for the restoration of heritage buildings that are undergoing “demolition by neglect”, but how to prevent this calculated destruction to the benefit of the owner from taking place in the first place. The adaptive reuse of heritage buildings is always a possibility but must begin within a winter or two while the structure remains heated. A pair of developers started in Cobourg with the Human Bean, then developed two floors of a culinary focussed shop next to Bee Bee’s shoe store (The latter has one of the only two remaining cast iron store fronts left in Cobourg). They bought and restored the imposing red coloured house on the west side of George Street, south of the railway tracts. They acquired Sidbrook with the intention of adapting it into a condominium. Something went wrong with their financing and the rest is history. Why Sidbrook has been allowed to remain in a state of demolition by neglect for this long is discraceful and should be the subject of an investigation by Council as well as new bylaws that prevent it ever happening again. We need an example that establishes how important our built-heritage is to us. The owner should be forced to give it up or restore it. Knowing how Strathmore Hall was built Sidbrook should be structurally sound. The third floor is an addition to the original structure. The physical neglect by the Province of Strathmore Hall is serious but is limited to the outside only. The interior has been changed by installing wood stud walls and should be easy enough to restore. The ornate ceilings are intact. In some areas a 2×4 hung ceiling was installed as a means of… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Keith Oliver
Sandpiper
Reply to  Keith Oliver
10 December 2021 2:11 pm

It was called a bit of a Recession , high interest rates , slow planning process and —– Banks and lending institutions that believe Heritage designations are a negative factor and have any Intrinsic / realistic Borrowing power . Pretty yes . Money Pit yes

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
10 December 2021 3:50 pm

Mr Oliver commented, “should be the subject of an investigation by Council as well as new bylaws that prevent it ever happening again. The owner should be forced to give it up or restore it.”
 
I am glad that you brought to my attention, Mr Krauss’ comments on this blog that can be characterized as all about $$$$$.  
 
Likewise, I notice a characteristic of your comments; a cultish love of govern mental institutions and the coercive power they wield.  

ben
Reply to  Wally Keeler
10 December 2021 5:36 pm

Hey wally speak in plain english so we can all understand what you really mean

Wally Keeler
Reply to  ben
11 December 2021 1:52 pm

the owner should be forced to give it up

This is the policy acme of progressives.

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
11 December 2021 10:11 pm

Wally, what does “acme” or “policy acme” mean? And, who/what are “progressives”?
A sincere question(s).

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
12 December 2021 4:49 am

Acme; “the highest point of something” Merriam Webster
Policy “a high-level overall plan embracing the general goals and acceptable procedures especially of a governmental body”
Progressives; They have a cultish love of government to solve all problems, They have a low regard towards individual freedom and a very high tolerance towards political violence . Progressives can often be found in mobs, gangs, crews, party. Black Lives Matter is progressive. Antifa is progressive. Most of all, they love conformity and coercion. They are anti-creative.

ben
Reply to  Wally Keeler
12 December 2021 8:12 am

They have a cultish love of government to solve all problems,”

And the Right-wing libertarians do not have the same cultish feelings but directed to violence and selfishness disguised as “Freedom”?

What is creative about these folks?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
12 December 2021 8:35 am

Ben, right-wing libertarians know that government is the cause rather than the solution for many problems.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  ben
12 December 2021 11:07 am

 same cultish feelings but directed to violence

What a crock! There is a sort of neo-McCarthyism going on. Instead of Reds under the beds, it’s now White Supremacists as the national boogeyperson. It wasn’t right-wing libertarians that were burning down American cities last summer. It was progressives (Democratic leadershit, celebrity sycophants) slandering Kyle Rittenhouse as a white supremacist. All those left liars were exposed for what they are. Kyle is an individual and the left couldn’t care less about individuals and their mythical “personal freedom”. Also consistent is the lefty rally round Jussie Smollet to smite those MAGA Monsters; of course, they rally round a proven liar, including the WH liars. The left is responsible for the Russia Hoax. All of that is violence. And the left is responsible for oppression of individuals via deplatforming, cancel culture, censorshit. All this by those who adore government and govt power. Own it GUVLUVERS!

Take note, I am a write supremacist and exploit my write privilege for the benefit of the ever expanding imagination.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  ben
12 December 2021 12:39 pm

Here is one more thing for you and your ilk to know:
Censorship causes more social damage than does FREE SPEECH!


ben
Reply to  Wally Keeler
12 December 2021 5:01 pm

So glad you wrote these two rebuttals they expose the paranoia that exists in a one track mind!!

Wally Keeler
Reply to  ben
12 December 2021 11:34 pm

No paranoia, just a healthy and robust resistance to oppression. I spent the larger part of my life fighting the S.O.R.E. virus (Suppression, Oppression, Repression of Expression) I hold the notion that personal freedom should be expanded and enhanced and strengthened for the benefit of individual creativity.

Yes, I got a one-track mind that loves freedom and creativity. I put it on the line when I went on ops to smuggle literature, poetry, art, music, hard currency in and out and inbetween the glorious socialist republics of the Cold War.

Freedom is hot
Bondage is not

You, Mr Oliver and your ilk, might want to heed Orwell’s essay, Politics and the English Language: “the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear. In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. Where it is not true, it will generally be found that the writer is some kind of rebel, expressing his private opinions and not a “party line.” Orthodoxy, of whatever color, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style. … In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.

Frenchy
Reply to  Wally Keeler
12 December 2021 6:24 pm

Wally, the use of of those caps and exclamation points are making you sound hysterical.

Last edited 6 months ago by Frenchy
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
12 December 2021 10:42 pm

You just gotta fill your need to be petty

Last edited 6 months ago by Wally Keeler
Pete M
Reply to  Wally Keeler
15 December 2021 12:37 pm

So if I’m to understand by ur definition…also lacking in inclusiveness and diversity of thought?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Pete M
15 December 2021 3:07 pm

You assume wrong. Can’t have creativity without a nimble diversity of thought. And I am a creative. How’s your diversity of thought?

Last edited 6 months ago by Wally Keeler
Keith Oliver
Reply to  Wally Keeler
14 December 2021 9:06 pm

Wally

Once again you do your best to side track what could be a meaningful exchange of views by your personal invective centered on political ideology. Congratulations!

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
15 December 2021 4:35 am

You are the one who promotes “force“, aka coercion, as a political method and you also assert the notion that personal freedom is a myth. THAT is your ideology.

JimT
Reply to  Wally Keeler
11 December 2021 12:29 pm

You got it, Wally. That whole concept of arbitrary government appropriation of private property by bureaucrats and politicos is such a very slippery slope to even contemplate stepping onto.

Last edited 6 months ago by JimT
Wally Keeler
Reply to  JimT
11 December 2021 2:15 pm

The progressives also believe that personal freedom is a myth. The reason that they say this is because they regard personal freedom as anathema to socialism. Progressives love conformists. These are the individuals I love: https://youtu.be/YMq5QNAl2nE

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Wally Keeler
12 December 2021 9:41 pm

Wally

It isn’t personal freedom that is a myth, it’s “absolute” freedom. If you want absolute freedom go and live by yourself on the top of a mountain. Once you decent into the village, and live among others including a partner, there is no such thing as absolute freedom. Has nothing to do with your political beliefs, just a fact of living in a community of others.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
15 December 2021 3:13 pm

I concur about absolute freedom, however it was you who had misused the term “personal freedom.” Perhaps you should be more careful about your misleading language.

ben
Reply to  JimT
11 December 2021 3:49 pm

That whole concept of arbitrary government appropriation of private property by bureaucrats and politicos is such a very slippery slope to even contemplate stepping onto.”

And give me one example of this in Northumberland please JimT, or else I might think that it is just a nice turn of phrase to justify your dislike of government!

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
11 December 2021 6:33 pm

Ben, an obvious example is the refusal of Council to allow the demolition of the derelict house at 93 Albert. Unlike Sidbrook, it has no particular architectural interest and it is not restorable. If the owner is unable to proceed Council has effectively appropriated a private property.

ben
Reply to  Ken Strauss
12 December 2021 8:09 am

Interesting interpretation Ken, twisted though!

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
12 December 2021 8:46 am

Why twisted, Ben? The property was purchased by a new owner. The new owner cannot live in the existing house, the new owner cannot replace the existing house with a livable structure and with Council’s recent decision the owner is unlikely to be able to sell it for more than a pittance. Isn’t that what appropriation means?

ben
Reply to  Ken Strauss
12 December 2021 5:07 pm

Ken as I said before, if the buyers had investigated the property, and they are connected to the development industry, they would have known what they were buying – a derelict house in a heritage district that had property restrictions on it.

I don’t call that appropriation just plain naivety or just stupidity.

definition by the Cambridge English Dictionary:
appropriation definition: 1. the act of taking something for your own use, usually without permission: 

Has this happened at the Albert St. house? If it has I would agree with you, if not you should change your definition.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
12 December 2021 6:44 pm

Please do not raise the red herring of the purchaser being imprudent; Council’s decision sets an unacceptable precedent. Consider the following scenario: I have owned a house in a heritage district for many years and there is a catastrophic fire. My house is not longer habitable. The cost of restoration is far beyond building a comparable new house yet I’m unable to demolish so I have lost both my house and my building lot and most fire insurance policies only cover the house. Is that reasonable?

Last edited 6 months ago by Ken Strauss
Keith Oliver
Reply to  Ken Strauss
12 December 2021 10:45 pm

Ken

Suffering a loss by fire is very different from demolition by neglect and stopping the latter is what this conversation should be about.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
12 December 2021 11:56 pm

The conversation was started by you, “The owner should be forced to give it up or restore it.”

Ok. How ya gonna do it? What is the process/criteria whereby a government can coerce an owner to surrender their property to ????
Can the owner be fined $1,000 a day for non-compliance? Is something like this what you had in mind Mr Oliver? How would you force compliance to the demand? So let’s imagine the owner gave it up, then what? So now it is in possession of the govt. Will they send out tenders for restoration? Would the restoration be exorbitantly expensive? Will the people of Cobourg be willing to ante up the uber expense to restore? So they do, and the Town owns an expensive restored house? Will they sell off? Will they repurpose it?

So tell us how you would force the owner to restore the property.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Keith Oliver
13 December 2021 9:17 am

Keith, perhaps I’m confused but didn’t the whole issue of the derelict house on Albert Street start with a fire that rendered the structure uninhabitable over 20 years ago?

I agree that buildings that were once grand, unique or of architectural significance — Sidbrook for example — should be preserved. I don’t think that those considerations apply to the Albert Street property.

marya
Reply to  Ken Strauss
14 December 2021 8:38 am

The Albert Street house was inhabited by tenants very much less than 20 years ago. Since then it has been occasionally inhabited by transients despite the “boarding” efforts. All occupancies, and so forth, on this extensive property are viewed from our windows.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  JimT
13 December 2021 2:19 pm

JimT

Criticism should be reinforced by specifics and/or alternatives. I have two questions

You believe government in its present form arbitrarily exercises too much power over private property. Saying “too much” implies there are circumstances where government control over private property is acceptable. In your opinion what are they?

Sidbrook is irreplaceable as a reminder of Cobourg’s unique past. A public awareness of that past is what gives Cobourg it’s distinct image. In addition Sidbrook can be repurposed to some contemporary use.

Given the present state of Sidbrook as an example of demolition by neglect to the benefit of the present owner, what action by local government do you believe is acceptable? … or should local government stay out of situations like this all together?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
13 December 2021 3:28 pm

When you answer Mr Oliver’s questions, keep in mind that this is his form of governance  “The owner should be forced to give it up or restore it.”.

JimT
Reply to  Wally Keeler
13 December 2021 8:25 pm

That’s it exactly, Wally. As you have already noted:

Wally Keeler
Reply to 
Keith Oliver
 12 December 2021 11:56 pm
The conversation was started by you, “The owner should be forced to give it up or restore it.”

That’s what I was referring to. It’s what prompted my comment to begin with: “…forced to give it up…”.

How can anyone countenance such arbitrary seizure and not speak up in defense of private ownership of property?

Keith Oliver
Reply to  JimT
13 December 2021 9:29 pm

JimT

Why are you not answering my two simple questions?

Wally is enamoured with what is called ‘”poetic licence” which I agree is acceptable as social commentary and can prove important debate.

As to Wally’s focus on my use of the word “forced”, do governments, under certain conditions, not have that right? An example is “forcing” everyone to drive on the right?

Again, answers to my two questions please.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
14 December 2021 12:14 am

Mr Oliver asserts; “An example is “forcing” everyone to drive on the right?”

Disingenuous. Forcing all to drive on the right is not confiscatory. You said the owner should be forced to give up their property, but you have no explanation how to confiscate another person’s property. Try another better example.

Last edited 6 months ago by Wally Keeler
Frenchy
Reply to  Keith Oliver
14 December 2021 4:02 am

Keith, you asked three questions in your post.

SW Buyer
Reply to  Keith Oliver
13 December 2021 11:54 pm

Keith,
The local government has the power to take control of this situation: expropriation.

The Town would have to pay market price for the property and even then the owner may not accept and challenge the expropriation.
Expropriation is not a sure thing as the Town found out when it tried to grab ( confiscate??, extort??) a piece of private waterfront property some years ago.

Is the Town willing to pay and how much should the Town pay?
Should the heritage groups chip in and how much?
How much should the Town pay for additional legal costs to fight the owner’s challenge?
Would the Town then sell it to a developer or keep the property?
How much should the Town spend on renovations?
How much for annual operations costs and maintenance?
How much is too much to pay for this property in the interest of “heritage”?
If given all of the facts, including the costs and tax increase, what evidence is there that the majority of Cobourgers would support such a purchase by the Town?

Last edited 6 months ago by SW Buyer
Wally Keeler
Reply to  SW Buyer
14 December 2021 12:17 am

Exactly.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  SW Buyer
14 December 2021 8:41 am

SW Buyer

In any debate, before getting into the details, it’s important to get agreement on basic principles that keep the discussion focused.

Do you believed demolition of built-heritage, which by definition has value beyond that of the owner (ie to the community-at-large), is acceptable?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
14 December 2021 10:49 am

Do you believe govt force/treasure should be used to acquire private property that will require additional inordinate amounts of public treasure to render the building safe for repurposing?

Mr Oliver presents only a binary choice: force to acquire or force to restore. It is an exceedingly undemocratic notion. There are options other than force. Persuasion.

It if means that much, then start a petition. Lobby the public for political support. Get a fund raising group going; the Restoration of Victoria Hall is a role model for fund raising. Follow it. Demonstrate that there is majority support for such confiscatory action and present that to Town Council to convince them to confiscate the properties.

It might be worth adding, that Cobourg has many aspirations that require $$$$$$$$. We know that $$$$$$ is a finite resource. I would much prefer that $$$$$$$ be spent on the east pier (also built heritage) rather than a derelict house on Albert, or the Sidbrook property which is architectural clutter, no splendor as with Victoria Hall, or the emerging block on the north east corner of King/Division.

Last edited 6 months ago by Wally Keeler
Keith Oliver
Reply to  Wally Keeler
16 December 2021 9:48 am

Wally

You accise me of “… a cultish love of governmental institutions and the coercive power they yield.”

What world do you live in Wally? …that of a poet with their privaged use of poeric licence? … or the real world in which those of us who strugge to be understood participate?

In this blog, concerned with the “demolition by negligence” of built-heritage properties, the use of force I referred to is the ability of local government, which you and I elect, to protect and preserve built-heritage as an ever present reminder of human scale and appealing building design (see the recently restored building at the north east corner of King and Division) as well as the unique history of Cobourg. The latter includes how Cobourg influenced the future of Upper Canada (the future Ontario) as well as that of Canada as a whole.

What I refer to as the use of force by government includes the enforcement of minimum property standards and services by owners of rental property, compliance with zoning regulations, over doing your vehicle’s stay next to an expired parking meter.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
16 December 2021 11:43 am

Mr Oliver commented, “What world do you live in Wally? …that of a poet with their privaged(sic) use of poeric(sic) licence? … or the real world in which those of us who strugge(sic) to be understood participate?”

I live in the real world. I lived in it so much that I used my poetic licence to smuggle art, literature, music, hard currency in and out and inbetween the socialist dictatorshits of the Cold War. I risked my freedom in the real world. Dissidents and creatives were oppressed and struggled to participate in democracy and I used poetic licence to achieve a modicum of poetic justice.

Mr Oliver commented, “You accise(sic) me of “… a cultish love of governmental institutions and the coercive power they yield.”:

Yes I did and it still stands solid.

Last edited 6 months ago by Wally Keeler
Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
16 December 2021 1:32 pm

Mr Oliver said, “What I refer to as the use of force by government includes the enforcement of minimum property standards and services by owners of rental property, compliance with zoning regulations, over doing your vehicle’s stay next to an expired parking meter.”

Very disingenuous. When you used “force” it was in terms of confiscation of private property, not expired parking meters.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Wally Keeler
16 December 2021 7:35 pm

Wally

Your interpretation of the circumstances regarding the use of force differ substaionally from mine

Time to end this debate. Looking forward to meeting you on another blog. Your elitest point of view is surprising and needs.to be challenged!

Last edited 6 months ago by Keith Oliver
Dubious
Reply to  Keith Oliver
16 December 2021 7:43 pm

What is wrong with elitist?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
16 December 2021 8:48 pm

Mr Oliver commented, “Your elitest(sic) point of view is surprising and needs.to be challenged!

I often have a unique point of view. I often have a non-conformist point of view. I often have an individualist point of view, I always have a point of view that services creativity.

Your point of view is one of cheerleading conformist obedience to govt.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Keith Oliver
16 December 2021 9:08 pm

10 December 2021 10:42 am, Let us note that Mr Oliver posted, “Why Sidbrook has been allowed to remain in a state of demolition by neglect for this long is discraceful and should be the subject of an investigation by Council as well as new bylaws that prevent it ever happening again. The owner should be forced to give it up or restore it.
 
How sad that Mr Oliver went back to his original post after he was called out on it and edited it by deleting the offensive assertion. “The owner should be forced to give it up or restore it.”
 
This deceitful manipulation is exactly what governments do. The dots are connected.

Last edited 6 months ago by Wally Keeler
Ken Strauss
Reply to  Keith Oliver
16 December 2021 3:01 pm

You accise me of “… a cultish love of governmental institutions and the coercive power they yield.”

No, Keith. Rather than poeric [sic] license, Wally is fluent in English and correctly wrote “wield” instead of “yield”.

Julien Winter
10 December 2021 9:57 am

If you want to see inside, see this YouTube video: https://youtu.be/nHlctlInp54

Johanne
9 December 2021 10:20 pm

When building structure cannot support fire and other security code we use facadism. I discussed this particular case with a few contractors. Facadism is used in keeping with new tradition and old ones. It is done all over big cities where churches become empty (public funding are supporting hospitals since covid times) and buildings are neglected and become non usable.
There are aesthetic and historical reasons for preserving building facades. Facadism can be the response to the interiors of a building becoming unusable, such as being damaged by fire, water infiltration, weak walls structure not capable to support a structural new roof. In developing areas, however, the practice is sometimes used by property developers seeking to redevelop a site as a compromise with preservationists who wish to preserve buildings of historical or aesthetic interest. It can be regarded as a compromise between historic preservation and demolition and thus has been lauded as well as decried. Cobourg had many old manses the size of Sidbrook gone by fire and demolition. We would be next in line with Saratoga Springs with a vision, care and passion of preservationists. Cobourg also used to have horse shows.

Last edited 6 months ago by Johanne
Jeffy
9 December 2021 7:17 pm

My goodness, people here need to get a grip. A structure that has not been heated for 21 years is no longer viable, no matter how heritagey it is, or I should say, was. It is not cheaper to renovate versus replace, by at least a factor of 10. If Emily Chorley and Nicole Beatty want to dispute that, cut a personal cheque to Mr. Clark and Ms. LeBlanc for the property and get to work renovating. These people (the builders) are NOT responsible for the condition of this building and likely bought this tear-down for redevelopment.

The building will fall down in a couple of years anyway. Tear it down now, at least to make the site safe.

MiriamM
9 December 2021 11:54 am

The lot for the Albert Street house is big. Retain and restore the existing house as a live-work set up and build another building behind it. The new building footprint would be bigger than the existing house and the mature trees could also be saved. The existing building softens the transition and maintains the character of the street. Seems to me that the Town and Council has made much effort to allow and encourage creativity for intensification within the existing built boundary.

Fed up with government control
Reply to  MiriamM
9 December 2021 3:57 pm

Here we go again a couple of people deciding what can and can’t be done with someone else’s property and money.Why not approve demo as long as the new building reflects the old.The heritage society of Cobourg needs to be more flexible this is not the first time the private sector has been told what they can do example paint colours,windows,siding or brick work with no regards to the cost of the home owner and with the amount of money they pay in porperty tax this is not rite.

MiriamM
Reply to  Fed up with government control
9 December 2021 5:37 pm

It is less about telling a property owner what they can or cannot do, and more about ensuring fair treatment and reliable rules e.g zoning for use and building heights, heritage designation etc., with regard to property rights of adjacent building owners which they can rely on when making investments in their own properties.

MiriamM
Reply to  Fed up with government control
9 December 2021 6:11 pm

p.s. new is not always a more cost effective or simpler process. It can take more effort and commitment. For example, take a look at the mortar joints on the present Scotia Bank building at the corner of King and George. A new building, replacing a former hotel. The mortar joint between bricks is raked with two fine lines, an old style detail. I recall walking by this building with a restoration architect and he was impressed by the attention to details. And it is my recollection the developer at the time argued, successfully, to not give the town a ‘required’ road widening, demanding the new building be allowed to line up with the other existing buildings of the main street. Nowadays this effort to fit in, especially near the national heritage site that is Victoria Hall, would be welcome (if not required) and not discouraged. The building set a high standard for new builds and proved it can be done. Probably very expensive, though. Fixing up the old likely a better route in most cases. Any ‘prohibitive to repair’ letter needs to come from an expert who knows how to repair old buildings. Fortunately, more young trades people are taking an interest in this line of restoration work.

Mark
Reply to  MiriamM
9 December 2021 6:34 pm

In Belleville,  Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf , they did a renovation, end cost millions more , and 2 years later , because they had do a lot to bring the building up to code
installing steel beam, sprinklerS, fireproofing , new electrical and HVAC , it would been much cheaper to build new

Scotia Bank is the best example what can be done to rebuild to fit the neighbourhood

Johanne
Reply to  MiriamM
10 December 2021 1:36 pm

Fixing up ( heritage buildings ) demands qualified trades, not regular workers or amateurs and it needs to be well coordinated. I saw it happening in Savannah Georgia for years, where humidity and three different types of snakes 🐍have their habitat. They also have the biggest school of Art and Design on the East part of the US. My husband discussed financial policies with the owners (charitable). My world was so exciting. I wish that kind of education and training would be officially in Town, especially when the boss is a retired teacher! It would attract trades from the province, and should be boosted to promote art and design in Ontario. Heritage at the moment is a hate and love relationship in small towns.

In Spain, one year the government gave free professional training to trades people. Building owners had a small grant to hire them, and those workers had a solid reputation as heritage specialist and could start their own business. For this purpose you need all levels of government to agree to support your heritage.

Last edited 6 months ago by Johanne
ben
Reply to  MiriamM
10 December 2021 5:40 pm

Yep James Hoffman did a fine job on this building, pity he is still not around.

ben
Reply to  Fed up with government control
10 December 2021 5:39 pm

this is not the first time the private sector has been told what they can do example paint colours,windows,siding or brick work with no regards to the cost”

Hey if the buyers cannot be bothered to read the rules before they bought the place then they can’t complain about said rules!!

marya
Reply to  ben
11 December 2021 7:15 am

Right on, Ben! Odd purchasing process it was, without their due diligence, claiming a short timeframe. Makes one wonder if the new purchasers are not part of the former owners’ conglomerate with the identical tactic/ploy.

Jackie Tinson
9 December 2021 9:53 am

Demolition of this appealing 19th century house would not only destroy the house but start the destruction of the 19th century streetscape which is built to a very human scale. This has happened noticeably in Toronto and Picton – to the later regret of residents.

Beach walker
9 December 2021 9:52 am

Perhaps the HAC could buy up all the old buildings in town? Fix them up on their dime? Problem solved.

Greg H
Reply to  Beach walker
9 December 2021 11:04 am

HAC stands for Heritage “Advisory” Committee. So it is not unreasonable to expect the committee and its members to “advise”. Nevertheless some of the committee members do live in “heritage” buildings and they spend considerable amounts of their own money to preserve and maintain them.

One of the attractive features of Cobourg are the well preserved older buildings. On August 3, 1894 the Toronto Globe wrote “No town in Ontario of the same size contains so many beautiful residences as does Cobourg.” Since 1894 there has been a considerable amount of demolition but the comment still references an attractive part of the town. There are many other attractive features of Cobourg including the parks, downtown and harbour. All these features need constant and loving attention.

In the late 1990s I was on the predecessor of the HAC but was told by the town clerk that “we do not need your advice”. Clearly he was was ill informed.The town needs both advice, and a willing citizenry. The preservation of our heritage is unfortunately in competition with those who see the ability to make a dime out of the demolition anything that is still standing.

ben
Reply to  Greg H
10 December 2021 5:42 pm

Just a pity that you and another “heritage guy” took the job seriously and managed to annoy the then coordinator of planning. Such is the problem of having principles and opinions.

Bill Thompson
9 December 2021 9:28 am

What a surprise .Not ! So obvious a strategy.
This is sacrilege and typical of Cobourg to destroy buildings that were well constructed and of historical value and for what.,another generic thrown together edifice that will be crumbling in a few years.
The East end being transformed into another typical area of Tim ,Horton gas station etc.and what will be erected here?
Directly across the street from Sidbrook the now vacant Detention Centre property with a yet undecided future.
The Golden Plough another example of destruction of a totally functional building that has lasted for years, and could still be used compared to what is being built around this town today.
Considering Victoria Hall ,built and of historical importance was going to be destroyed but prevented only by townspeople action to save it. Another glaring example displaying a complete disregard for town history.

Cobourg is rapidly joining the number of towns paving over land & demolishing buildings that make it unique and replacing them with generic eyesores.

Lemon cake
Reply to  Bill Thompson
9 December 2021 12:05 pm

Cobourg has torn down so many incredible buildings over the years. They seem to have been replaced by ugly structures that are a poor use of land. It’s really too bad. Would be great to see the town or province offer incentives for people to renovate these buildings – a tax break or additional funding for the renovations. There are probably ways to do it but it doesn’t seem to be a priority for Council. I am heartened to see the building at the corner of Division and King being repaired and cleaned up.

Last edited 6 months ago by Lemon cake
Bill Thompson
Reply to  Bill Thompson
9 December 2021 12:38 pm

I discovered this video online from 2011 giving a general view what some of the interior was & has been allowed to deteriorate.
https://jermalism.blogspot.com/2011/05/abandonment-issues-sidbrook-hospital.html

Gerinator
Reply to  Bill Thompson
9 December 2021 5:44 pm

Thanks Bill for the viewing. Relatively new to Cobourg so no real chance get to the inside. Incredible how toothless we are in getting the owners to respect these properties. As an incentive how about every year that the property remains abandoned the taxes go up by 40%? That way the owner has to do something to mitigate cost increases; if not they’ll not only be extremely out of pocket they won’t be able to sell the property. Further prospective buyers will realize, given the high taxes, that something is up with the property.

Doug
9 December 2021 8:55 am

To renovate such a building would not likely be a profitable proposition for anyone. The town’s choices are probably an ongoing eye sore for years to come or a new attractive apartment complex. To fit modern style apartments into such an old box shaped building with only a few entrances would be difficult.

I would also note that the other old estate home down the street at Brookside is well on its way to falling into the same condition. Eves troughs are falling off and strangely, some widows are left partly open. Little heritage character is left inside either of these buildings.

Taryn Cooke
9 December 2021 8:40 am

YEA !!! How did it get to this stage- Town objecting? WOW ! … I think we need to see the whole file of complaints from surrounding neighbours who look at it everyday- Pic of 93 Albert is nowhere near what it looks like now- with exterior trees growing on the inside of front windows. Foxes – rats – raccoons crawling into the back foundation hole to keep warm – NO JOKE!
Now is all that Heritage standards?? ???????? Many surrounding residents were happy to see a new owner finally come in who could potentially correct the mistakes that lead to deterioration presumably allowed by the Town- well prior to the purchase by the current new owner… especially on structure on the interior without permits- BTW… where is the original staircase, just askin !!! Put on your seatbelts and get out the popcorn ! I would suggest the new owner send around a petition… and present to those who make these decisions perhaps look at the file on our behalf pronto prior to deciding !!! Just sayin’

Lemon cake
9 December 2021 8:33 am

Wow – that picture of Sidbrook in 2018 looks much better than it does today. It’s deteriorating really fast. My question is – how would the Albert St decision impact Sidbrook if its owners plan to let it fall over? The roof looks like it’s in imminent danger of caving in. And once that happens it’s going to be next to impossible to bring it back. From what I understand there is no recourse for the town.

Phunkeemum
9 December 2021 8:33 am

The greenest building is one that is already built. Someone with means just has to care enough to save it.

Concerned Taxpayer
Reply to  Phunkeemum
9 December 2021 9:39 am

Victoria Hall was saved by the passionate leadership of Councillor Lenah Field Fisher in the 1970s. A group of dedicated volunteers saved the magnificent building from demolition, returning it to its full glory in 1983. Victoria Hall was designated a National Historic Site in 1959. The Sidbrook building is impressive and would be very attractive if restored. We need to look for ways to preserve this piece of Cobourg history. Preserving old buildings allows historians to study the essence of a building’s creation and past human activity. Yes, an old building restoration can be expensive and labour-intensive, but preserving Sidbrook could be valuable as a new Cobourg tourist attraction, especially being across from the new Brookside space. Many architectural styles reflect certain historical trends or cultural values and serve as reminders of Cobourg’s rich heritage. Yes, it would make a beautiful condo, but there is so much building going on in Cobourg in the North East corner of town already. Sometimes, new business owners have a preference for historic buildings, and historic buildings attract people. Historic Building restoration preserves an aspect of a Town’s history and strengthens the Town’s future. It takes more energy to tear down and rebuild them to restore. By preserving a historic property, the owner would be promoting sustainability, which could be a shining example for the Town of Cobourg and the community at large.

Phunkeemum
Reply to  Concerned Taxpayer
9 December 2021 1:52 pm

Amen