At the Committee of the Whole (CoW) Council meeting on December 6, Council were asked to support a Cobourg Heritage Advisory Committee (CHAC) recommendation to deny permission to approve demolition of the building at 93 Albert Street (see report in Links below). But before a vote was taken, Councillor Darling moved to refer the decision to the CoW meeting on January 3 so that there would be more time to study the issue. At that meeting (Monday night), the Chair of the CHAC (Graham Andrews) and Vice Chair (Ken Bagshaw) spoke out strongly as to why they wanted to deny permission contrary to a Staff recommendation and then Council debated if they should accept the recommendation of Heritage /Planning Staff or the CHAC. Rob Franklin, Acting Director, made it clear that he continued to support his recommendation to allow demolition.
According to Ken Bagshaw, the reports by the consultants (hired by the owner as required) recognized the Heritage value but nevertheless supported demolition although nowhere did any reports say the building was in imminent danger of collapse. Further, the consultants did not seem to be independent but were advocating for the owner. Ken and Graham said that granting a demolition permit would be a bad precedent and send a message that owners would expect to get easy approval to demolish Heritage properties.
Councillor Brian Darling asked if any of the committee had visited the property and the answer was “No”. They relied on the reports. (Several Councillors including Brian did visit). Brian has had personal experience with this kind of thing and felt that it was not a good idea to try to restore the building. He said that all of the consultants agreed that the building was in very poor condition.
Although Brian did not think that the owner would spend the required money to repair the extensive damage, Councillor Emily Chorley said that “we are not here to discuss financial considerations”. She said that the owner admitted that restoration would be possible so it was simply a money issue. Basically, any structure can be repaired – but it may be expensive. She said that Council should demonstrate a commitment and that demolition by neglect will not be tolerated. However, she also said that the Town should be more pro-active.
In a recorded vote, Council voted to deny permission to demolish – they agreed with the CHAC and over-ruled staff. The vote was:
Deny Demolition – 4 votes: Mayor John Henderson, Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin, Councillor Nicole Beatty, Councillor Emily Chorley
Approve Demolition – 3 votes: Brian Darling, Adam Bureau, Aaron Burchat.
This vote will have to be ratified at next Monday’s regular Council Meeting but I’d be surprised if anyone changed their mind.
- Demolition by Neglect – earlier Cobourg News Blog report – December 6.
- Meeting agenda item – see all reports in attachments