Tonight, Councillor Piper will introduce a special resolution regarding the future of the Wilson Farmhouse. She gave Notice of Motion at the end of the September 28 Council meeting. This is her proposed motion:
- That staff be directed to issue a Request for Expressions of Interest for the sale or lease of 80 Simmonds Drive (Wilson Farmhouse) for a period of 120 days for community use or residential use (including its permitted uses under the Zoning By-law).
- And that staff report back at a future meeting of Council all Expressions of Interest received, for evaluation and further direction.
- And that, if no Expressions of Interest are received, or deemed appropriate by Council for further consideration, that the farmhouse at 80 Simmonds Drive be demolished and its materials, where possible, be salvaged for reuse or recycling.
If the motion carries, it will mean a majority of members of Council want to see if there is a viable residential or community use before making the decision to demolish the farmhouse. The staff recommendation to demolish the farmhouse and create a commemorative feature marking the history of farming on the land, failed at the September 28th meeting.
Despite the recent circulation of a potential use for the farmhouse, Council will not be discussing any specific proposal at tonight’s meeting. If it is the will of Council to consider proposals, we must establish an open, fair and transparent process through which any and all proposals will be equally considered.
In my opinion, regardless of whether the farmhouse is retained or it is demolished, it will remain an unfortunate reminder of how not to protect heritage.
Granted much has changed in the City’s approach to heritage planning since 1998 when the first die was cast on the fate of this farmhouse. We have also witnessed our CAO and Executive Team’s new integrated approach to managing complex files in action with this issue.
However, I wish I could capture all the time and money spent on this farmhouse over the past 15 years – by City staff, Councillors and community members – and put it to the restoration of the Petrie Building.
With limited time and money, should we be pursuing a more strategic approach to heritage protection?