I’m in a new state of shock. Yet again the city lets a heritage property go to ruin and become the subject of demolition by neglect. Add this one to the list of Somerset Hotel, 234 O’Connor Street, and previous to those Our Lady’s School on Murray Street at Cumberland. I’d like to say I don’t believe it but alas I do. I am so not impressed with the management of this city! Priorities are exclusively making money – at any cost. That can be a fine game for a period of time until you realize you’ve gone too far! Sort of like some neighbourhoods that have become desirable because of their character and then in a rush to capitalize on that developers arrive building overly large structures and extinguishing what drew people to the area to start with.
So if I’m understanding correctly a heritage property can be entrust in the hands of a foreign country and then left to rot. The pics make it look like they ran it into the ground. Let go so that they could pursue their ultimate desires of a new construction. Surely decisions with regards the protection of our heritage cannot rest in the hands of other countries. A country who has left the property go to ruin. How can this be right?
Much has been writen up about this current situation. First in the Citizen July 2, 2017, then July 7, 2017, then February 1, 2018. Heritage Ottawa have given their point of view February 8, 2018. But I suspect that when the city has decided nothing can be done.
Judy Deegan, Heritage Keeper for Sandy Hill has made these comments:
Here’s what I sent to Erin Topping in the City’s Heritage Planning Section on March 6, 2009, regarding the Egyptian Embassy’s request to tear down its two buildings on Laurier and replace them with a large oblong building that would have taken up over 2/3 of the block. It was to be only about 3 or 4 stories high, but it was entirely out of character with the existing streetscape.
The key problem, I thought, was the creating of a precedent that many embassies might find very attractive.
If the City’s bylaw is still in place, the same arguments pertain to what the Ugandans want to do. Their proposed building doesn’t look bad and in fact looks similar to what they want to tear down. However if they are allowed to go ahead and build new, a lot of other embassies in small late 19th/early 20th century houses may use this as a precedent to try to tear down a residential building to put up a block-y building that fits their office needs.
“Dear Ms. Topping,
Discussions at last evening’s meeting organized by Georges Bédard underlined to me that it is absolutely crucial the City uphold its existing bylaw permitting diplomatic missions to locate only in existing houses converted for that purpose in Sandy Hill–not in new, purpose-built office buildings.
Allowing the Egyptian Embassy to evade this zoning requirement by destroying two attractive houses and building a modern chancery on the site sets a very dangerous precedent that affects the 40-odd other diplomatic missions now located in existing older buildings in Sandy Hill. If this bylaw is in place in other neighbourhoods, it also affects missions located in Centretown, the Glebe, New Edinburgh and other centrally located residential areas favoured by foreign embassies.
It is not easy to shoe-horn modern Embassy operations into 100-year-old mansions. That is why many countries choose to locate their chanceries in downtown office towers, with modern facilities. If the City favours the Egyptians with this bylaw amendment, other missions will find it extremely tempting to get around the inconveniences of working in quaint Victorian houses by simply demolishing them and starting afresh. When you think of the number of Embassies on Range Road alone, you can imagine what the future might hold.
I urge the City to uphold its own laws.
The city’s Heritage Planning section approved the demolition of 6 (6!) perfectly good, mid-price rental buildings. How big of a mountain of garbage does that create? And what did we get? An 8-storey monstrosity to temporarily house students who will leave after 2 or 3 years. Meanwhile the inhabitants of Sandy Hill have to live with this aggressive thing for the next 50+ years.
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