Good to Know Stories of Caledon

Will Council Demolish a Designated Heritage Home in its own Heritage District?

18 Ann Street
Written by Patti Foley

Photo credit: Robinson Heritage Consulting

Editor’s note: At their May 21st meeting Caledon Council voted to press pause on their decision to demolish this home. Watch for a follow-up story next week on JSC.

Bewildered. And disappointed.

That’s how Jimmy Pountney, long-time Bolton resident and business owner, felt as he watched the May 7th Town of Caledon General Committee meeting.

Report (#2024-0017) regarding 18 Ann Street, a charming heritage home nestled in the Village of Bolton Heritage Conservation District (Bolton HCD), clearly recommended that “That staff be directed to develop and submit a Capital project plan and associated 2025 Capital Budget request for Council consideration, supporting Option C.” This option was to keep the structure, preserve its heritage elements, and create an outdoor gathering space.

So, Pountney was shocked when Council instead chose to support Option B, which is to “fully remove” the building and look at “possible creation of outdoor gathering space.”

The Town quietly bought the heritage home in 2022 for an undisclosed price.  Upon learning that they were considering demolishing it to create a “town square” Pountney and others who had worked long and hard to establish the Bolton HCD were alarmed. While an avid supporter of a town square for the downtown Pountney felt that the small (less than ¼ acre) lot, and at the expense of a heritage structure, 18 Ann Street is the wrong choice. However, knowing that the site is a designated contributing heritage property sitting within the heritage district they didn’t feel it would truly be at risk.

“It’s like going against our own policies” says Pountney who also sat on the Downtown Bolton Revitalization Task Force. “The creation of the Bolton HCD was a process that took over three years. But the people and business owners involved will tell you it was worth it. It means that, as growth and new structures happen around us, we get to preserve some of our past. It means that long into the future there will still be beautiful, recognizable pieces of our town of Bolton.”

Pountney felt even more assured that the structure would remain intact when a Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment was conducted and concluded exactly that. The report, completed by Robinson Heritage Consulting, states in its Conclusion on page 55, that the building is in “excellent repair and should be retained” and should be incorporated into the Humber River Centre as “a separate and distinct element” of the complex. It also points out that removal of the garage additions would increase the amount of outdoor programming space.

Perhaps, even more importantly, the report goes on to state that the demolition of a contributing heritage building in the district “is not supported by Section 6.1 of the Bolton HCD Guidelines and would set an undesirable precedent”.

Referencing the demolition Guidelines on page 99 of the Bolton HCD Plan Section 6.1.1 reads that “applications to demolish contributing buildings, will be discouraged, except in extraordinary circumstances, such as structural instability or damage resulting from a catastrophic event…”

The other demolition guideline of note in the Bolton HCD Plan is Section 6.1.3, which states that a Heritage Permit for demolition will not be issued until the design of the replacement building has been reviewed and determined to be compatible with the cultural heritage value of the district and complies with the HCD Plan policies and guidelines.

In addition, the Ontario Heritage Act, Section 42(1) states that demolition within an HCD cannot occur without a permit (what the Bolton HCD Plan refers to as a Heritage Permit). As well, Sub-section 4.1 indicates that, with respect to demolition, Council must first consult with its heritage committee. This is a step that, at time of writing, JSC was told has not happened.

The fact that there has been no public process to date, no consultation with the Heritage Caledon Committee, and a willingness to over-ride the Town’s own Plan and proceed with demolishing a designated heritage home is disturbing for many people. Yet the matter is slated to come to Council for ratification on May21st.

Will the stroke of a pen save a piece of Bolton’s history? Or sentence it to demolition?

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About the author

Patti Foley

Having spent 25 years in Bolton, Patti remains an advocate for Caledon. As a former Regional Councillor and a long-time community volunteer she is passionate about communicating information about its issues, news, events, people, non-profits and businesses.

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