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).
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”.
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.
- Stopping Demolition by Neglect – About Sidbrook – 6 February 2018
- Sidbrook – On Cobourg History site