Posted January 22, 2014
It was with great interest to read in the Mercury that the last owner of the derelict Wilson Farmhouse says it should be demolished. “You can’t save this thing,” Jack Ingram recalled saying to Rob Reynen, Guelph’s chief building inspector several years ago.
Yet despite this advice, the city did not demolish the building that is now surrounded by a large subdivision of homes.
Despite this, Coun. Ian Findlay outlined a plan to have the city invest $500,000 to refurbish the building and turn it into a community centre. Findlay trotted out a number of heritage advocates determined to save the building. Last November, Coun. Leanne Piper, a former head of the heritage organization in Guelph, introduced a motion placing a 120-day moratorium on demolishing the building. This was to allow the city to receive applications for saving the building.
That ruling expires March 20 and then the building is to be demolished.
Now the heritage mavens are coming out of the woodwork to attempt again to stop the Wilson demolition. Ben Barclay, a local woodworker, says the building has “good bones” but has cosmetic damage. Jack Ingram counters that the foundation consists of big stones stacked up on each other to support the structure.
Again Barclay said the building is salvageable and the city could hold the mortgage to be used to renovate the property. The loan would be repaid with income from use of the property as a community centre.
The city’s assistant solicitor, Mike Kershaw, said that up to January 20, the city had received no formal expressions of interest.
Why does the majority of council continue to delay this inevitability? With the advice of the city staff, the former owner of the house, the resident’s surrounding the house, it is time to rid the community of this ugly duckling of an era long forgotten.
The costs are substantial so why should the citizens support such a scheme to please a minority of heritage supporters?
Not even Mike Holmes could save this dump.