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Developer says saving historic site would mean 200 to 500 fewer homes built

Developer wants to tear down historic Gordon Street site that's in rough shape

A North American development firm doesn’t want to fix and preserve the historic, south end structures it has allowed to rot, failing to act on previous orders to repair them. It’s now asking an appeal tribunal for permission to knock it all down.

The owners of 2187 Gordon St. – a group that includes Mattamy Homes – want the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) to overturn city council’s February decision to preserve the site’s heritage features under the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA).

Those lands, located south of Clair Road, include a stone barn built around 1850, known as the James Kidd barn, and a farmhouse constructed in 1907 known as the Blair farmhouse. Both families are among the area’s early settlers.

No date has been set for an OLT hearing at this time.

In order to retain the farmhouse and barn, the developer claims it would need to reduce the number of homes it intends to build there by 200 to 500 units, though it makes no mention of how many homes it hopes the site will hold. 

The site is within the city’s Clair-Maltby area, which includes general plans for high-density living along Gordon Street. At this point, the developer has not submitted its development proposal to city officials for consideration.

“It is not feasible to retain the farmhouse and the barn in situ and accommodate the preferred storm and sanitary servicing strategy outlined in the (city’s environmental servicing plan),” the appeal notice reads. “Based on the work by … consultants, it is anticipated that significant grading and fill will be required to construct roads, services, and stormwater management, with up to seven metres of fill being required in the front portion of the property.

“As a result, in situ retention would leave the structures several meters below grade, and without a stormwater outlet.”

The company goes on to repeat previously made assertions that the site is now in such poor condition that it’s too dangerous to repair – arguments it made when appealing property standards bylaw orders to repair and maintain the barn, as well as during a court challenge of its denied appeal of those orders.

“These safety risks outweigh the structure’s value,” the developer argues, noting consultants believe restoration work would have an “enormous” impact on its bottom line for the project. 

“This budget does not account for the significant additional work and costs involved to prepare the barn for in situ retention,” the appeal states. “Furthermore, there is no guarantee that such restorative work will in fact prevent further damage and deterioration. 

“Given the extreme safety and liability risks associated with retention of the structures … consultants … cannot recommend attempting restoration.”

Representatives for the developer previously claimed the work could cost more than $400,000 to bring the barn up to minimum standards, while the cost to demolish and dispose of the materials is about $25,000.


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Richard Vivian

About the Author: Richard Vivian

Richard Vivian is an award-winning journalist and longtime Guelph resident. He joined the GuelphToday team as assistant editor in 2020, largely covering municipal matters and general assignment duties
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