Posted September 11, 2013
A letter writer complains that it is a mistake to demolish the Wilson farmhouse that now sits in the middle of a designated park in Guelph’s northern reaches.
The chief of the Heritage Department of the city of Guelph testified at a hearing that the farmhouse was a bonafide heritage site and should be retained. Coun. Andy Van Hellemond, who represents citizens in the area, consulted with residents to determine their views. He worked hard to convince the city that the building was derelict and would cost more than $350,000 to restore.
Furthermore, the majority of resident’s wanted it removed as it was an eyesore and dysfunctional.
Despite his efforts, the city held fast until this week when staff recommended demolishing the building.
This is reminiscent of what happened with the Guelph Heritage group, led by Coun. Leanne Piper, that saved the derelict Loretto convent located on someone else’s property. That exercise cost taxpayers more than $16 million plus to renovate it into a civic museum.
Somehow, saving buildings that are perceived to be of value for future generations to understand our beginnings has become an obsession with heritage aficionados. It often overrides common sense and the wishes of the people.
A certain faction of this city council have made it their business to spend taxpayer’s money pursuing their dreams of preserving the bricks and mortar of our past. So much so that the city now has a paid staff of six Heritage employees dedicated to that task.
There is definitely a place for preservation of historic buildings and to receive public input, pro and con. But it should be managed by the city Planning Department where building and architectural values are professionally considered.
This designated public park is for the use and enjoyment of the residents in the area. That’s what they expected when they purchased their homes. To suggest the park is too large for the area is a specious argument.
Andy’s Ward Two bench mate, Ian Findlay, still sticks to renovating the building. But then his interests lie downtown where he operates a business. After ten years, he thinks there should be more consultation. He disputed that the majority of neighbours wanted the building demolished saying he had heard privately from those wanting a restoration.
Why didn’t they speak up if they were so convinced of their cause? Isn’t that the way democracy is supposed to work?
The letter writer should understand that all politics is local. If you don’t participate, you don’t count.
Kudos to Coun. Van Hellemond for his efforts to do the right thing.
Bring on the demolition crew.