Tuesday, June 24, 2014 – The Heritage Permit Review Sub-Committee said no to the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s proposal to demolish the majority of the Hermitage Ruins that is located in Ancaster, Ontario.
The Hamilton Conservation Authority wanted to reduce the surviving walls of the 1855 Mansion to a height of 3 feet. The HCA expressed concerns over public safety; from falling stones to people climbing the walls and then falling.
The Authority was also concerned about the cost of restoring the structure. They were unwilling to invest more money in the designated heritage structure than the current proposal of $150,000 to $200,000. The same amount that it would cost to completely demolish the mansion.
At the meeting, it was also revealed that the HCA would also refuse greater restoration efforts even if private money available.
The members of the Permits Committee have struggled with the fate of the Hermitage Ruins over three meetings. The committee seemed to be exhausted over the unwillingness of the HCA to do more in saving the designated building and finally voted 4-0 to reject the HCA proposal.
The issue now moves to the Heritage Committee, assuming the HCA still wishes to partial demolish the mansion.
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The Hermitage Ruins have a little more time before the future is decided.
The Permits sub-committee was to hear the request by the Hamilton Conservation Authority to demolish most of the surviving walls to a height of 3 feet. Apparently, more people wanted to attend the meeting, so the meeting has been re-scheduled to May. Hopefully, the HCA will use the time to reflect on the value of the property and decide to do a proper restoration as their consulted had suggested.
James Street Baptist Church, is a heritage designated building in the City of Hamilton, Ontario. It is the oldest surviving Baptist Church in the City of Hamilton, Ontario.
Declining church membership and increasing repair costs caused the congregation to sell the building. The Developer, who purchased the building, wants to build condos on the site and save as much of the heritage designated building as possible.
After taking ownership, however, the Developer says he found structural problems that posed a safety risk to the public and sought permission from the City to demolish part of the building.
A sub-committee of the City’s heritage committee (the Permits Committee) agreed to the developer’s request for a partial demolition.
Since the granting of the demolition permit, the Durand Neighbourhood Association, within which the Church is located, has questioned why the demolition permit did not come to the City’s Heritage Committee and then City Council for review and approval.
On April 17th, the Heritage Committee received presentations from the neighbourhood association and the developer.
Local and Independent Reporter, Joey Coleman, provided live video of the meeting. This video coverage is now posted to his Youtube site.
Below is the video and a time line guide to the two presentations and the questions from the committee. This is only a guide, for exact wording of questions, answers, and comments, please refer to Joey’s video of the meeting.
Many thanks to Joey Coleman for covering the meeting and his excellent reporting of City Hamilton business.
Video of the Heritage Meeting of April 17th, 2014
Timeline Guide to the Meeting
Janice Brown, Durand Neighbourhood Association (about 18 mins long)
Presentation starts at about the 11:20 mark.
13:26 – discussion of the memorandum on the delegation of Council authority to staff
16:10 – Brown has concerns over why the memorandum was not made into a bylaw
16:50 – Brown asks several questions of the Heritage including
– Why did the staff and representatives not recognize that James Street Baptist was an extraordinary application?
– Why was the application not flagged
– Why did it not go to full consideration by the heritage committee?
– Why did people not realize that this is a controversial issue and should have been forwarded to planning and economic development committee and Council for final approval?
18:45 – questions continue
If you disregarded this statement (memorandum) then how did you make the decision to not forward to planning and economic development and Council?
– Don’t know your criteria is?
Brown explains the importance of the delegation of authority to staff on the Durand neighbourhood.
Brown notes that the Durand neighbourhood may have the most of the heritage designated buildings in Hamilton. The neighbourhood also has two conservation districts. In the future, any of these buildings might come down without clear criteria.
20:00 Brown reads a letter to the Heritage Committee
24:00 Chair of the Heritage Committee
Chair notes that the procedures put in place were followed.
25.00 Questions by Paul Wilson, member of the Heritage Committee
– Bump-up procedures (memorandum) were never made part of the bylaw?
25:45 – Comment is made that this should be looked at.
26:45 – Jason Farr comments on the Durand Presentation
– Farr notes that he respected the process that was in place
– This situation provides an opportunity to address this process for future decisions
– We do this every 5 years, so it is time
29:00 – The Durand Neighbourhood Association’s Presentation is received by the Heritage Committee.
Louie Santaguida, Stanton Renaissance Presentation (about 16 mins)
29.00 – Starts immediately after the end of the Heritage Committee votes to receive the Durand Neighbourhood Association
– Have worked hand-in-hand with the City
– The City has worked very hard to ensure that every policy and procedure has been keep
– Have gone beyond (what is required??)
– One of the very first buildings where you got a letter of credit so that the preservation is maintain
– View this as a community changer
– Jason Farr has been kept abreast as far as we can
32.00 – Update on the Project
– The hoarding has gone up (the temporary fencing)
– The road has been closed off
– Looking at how much can be saved
– A structural (support wall is being built to protect part of the structure??)
32.56 – Update continues
– we are in the design links of the project
– we are (in a position of) not knowing what we can be built
– this is not typical
– being done because of the structural integrity of the building
– working on issues of parking
34.15 – Update continues
– trying to maintain more strain glass
– trying to incorporate more public space
– concept plans (should be ready) in about four weeks
36.00 – there was an alternative and we decided not to go down that route
Questions by Paul Wilson
Wilson expresses concern about a heritage building being knotting down without a plan being in place.
Is the City telling you that it needs to be torn down now?
They gave you a demolition permit, it wasn’t the City’s order that you tear down the building?
38.00 – Questions continue
Why does it (James Street Baptist Church) need to come down now, before we know what’s going in its place?
Can you share a little more about what will go in there?
39.49 – Questions continue
What is the status of the north wall?
When do you hope this project will be completed?
Do you have any concerns (regarding completing the project)?
40.40 – the Chair of the Permits Committee (who is a member of the Heritage Committee) comments that he has read the original engineering report and is surprised that a demolition order wasn’t put out by the City.
41.20 – Rather save some of it than none of it
41.29 – Another member of the Heritage Committee cites other buildings that had serious problems and were able to be saved, asks the Developer if there other possibilities for the James Street Baptist Church?
43.43 Heritage Committee votes to receive Louie Santaguida’s, Stanton Renaissance Presentation
Committee moves onto other issues.
Chris Erskine, @erskinec
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July 10th – the Downtown Heritage Forum was held at the LIUNA Station.
Good event with a lot of interesting information and people. Joey Coleman recorded the evening and posted his video to VIMEO. I like express my appreciation for all his hard work on this and other events in Hamilton.
The video covers the beginning and ending of the evening and last about 49 minutes.
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