Heritage Group’s strategy: Paralysis then analysis

September 23, 2013

The recent editorial in the Tribune calls for the decision to demolish the shoddy, derelict property known as the Wilson Farmhouse, to be delayed for further consideration.

Let’s go slowly, the paper states. No rushing for judgment.

It’s the classic strategy used by politicians at every level of government.

It’s a replay of the 11-year battle to allow Walmart to set up shop in the city.

But what’s in it for the newspaper? Did they interview the people who live near the dilapidated structure for their views?

Heritage Guelph, the 12-member special interest group, is using the strategy to block destruction of a building in a new town park that is of questionable value to the community. In fact, the vast majority of residents living in the northern reaches of Ward Two are saying: “Tear that building down”.

Not so fast, says Ward Two Coun. Ian Findlay who gets a nosebleed if he has to go north of Speedvale in his ward. Findlay’s heart lies downtown where he operates a business some five kilometers south of the Wilson house.

Findlay, Coun. Lise Burcher, Coun. Leanne Piper, and Coun. Todd Dennis have joined the Heritage Guelph group to stop the destruction of the building. The heritage group wants the council to identify the house under the Ontario Heritage Act.

The Tribune brought up the case of the Mitchell Farmhouse that was taken down seven years ago brick by brick and is now stored in city works yard.

The newspaper or the heritage group never talk about the destruction of the historic Carnegie Library by a previous city council. Now that was a legitimate heritage building and worthy of saving.

Instead, the zealots who populate the Heritage Guelph committee are determined to obstruct progress and interfere with private property owner’s rights.

The fine line between what is a legitimate heritage building and what a group of self-serving enthusiasts believe is of heritage value, results in more subjective than objective values. The suggestion to put the Wilson decision to the voters is silly and the heritage group may not like the outcome.

Besides when the cost is of no consequence, it’s perceived as a matter of principle.

This issue strikes at the heart of why most voters in the city are angry over how the special interests have seized control of the public purse. It’s why more and more people are joining GrassRoots Guelph to stop the wasteful spending by council on projects that serve the special interests but fail to support the public interests. Join today! grassrootsguelph2014@gmail.com


Filed under Between the Lines

7 responses to “Heritage Group’s strategy: Paralysis then analysis

  1. Glen N. Tolhurst

    Do any of the proponents of designating the house have any “skin in the game” or are they playing with other people’s (read taxpayers’) funds? How about they dig into their own pockets “to put up or shut up”?

    • Glen N. Tolhurst: What a great idea! Let Heritage Guelph put their money where their mouth is. Pull away from the public trough and raise money for your causes … much like the rest of us. I guess they don’t realize how their constant heritage harangue irritates the general public. Enough already.

  2. geo

    I second Mr. Tolhurst’s opinion. If the Wilson farmhouse means so much to Heritage Guelph then let Heritage Guelph come up with the money.
    Their ability to preserve old buildings pales in comparison to their ability to preserve their own money.

  3. By that rationale everyone who wants the downtown library should raise the money to build it. Everyone who wants the south end rec-centre should raise the money to build that. The police want the headquarters expansion, so they should raise the money themselves. Violate the code of conduct? No problem, call in the integrity commissioner and pay for it out of your own pocket, not the citizens!

    I’ll remind you all that Heritage Guelph is an advisory committee to council. Recommendations can be made in support of or against issues like the Wilson Farmhouse. In the end council has the final say on what is designated and what is not.

    • Russell: Bit of twisted logic here. The heritage advisory committee has been thoroughly politicized with a core of councillors supporting their recommendations. The biggie was the proposal by newly elected Leanne Piper in 2007 to renovate the derelict Loretto Convent owned by the Diocese of Hamilton into a civic museum. That project, rammed through council, ended up costing the taxpayers more than $16 million. It is no coincidence that prior to her election to council, Ms. Piper was chairperson of the Heritage group. Because it took more than four years to complete, the true costs will never be known because of the major foundation problems encountered by the contractor and subcontractors. The public was never consulted about this project but they still had to pay for it.

  4. Glen N. Tolhurst

    Good points Russell. I recall an article in the Trib mentioning that a lady was willing to pay $200k for the house to use it as a daycare centre. Why not take the money and have an end of flapping lips.

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