Councillors, please consider on Nov. 4th Wilson Farmhouse

A resident’s submission.

• The Mayor and the City have admitted there was misinformation and numerous mistakes made regarding the Wilson Farmhouse.

• Why should the citizens of Northern Heights and the rest of the City have to suffer the loss of 10% of our whole block park. 10% of prime park land that we have been accessing and appreciating since we moved in. 10% that was dedicated.

• Take rezoning, sale and severance off the agenda. Selling parkland, especially 10% of a whole block park, has never been done before. This would set an unsavory precedent. Imagine selling 10% of Exhibition Park?

• In the beginning (12+ years ago), the City and Heritage had their chance to implement proper planning procedures as per the Official Plan. Both Hanlon Farmhouses in South Guelph are on 4+ acres of preserved heritage landscape including barns and many mature trees. The City and Heritage have failed to implement many official plan policies.

• Decimating the 108 acre farmstead to 1/3 acres is a major mistake, especially since the entire front yard with majestic trees and heritage barn has vanished. Why didn’t the City and Heritage prevent this? It is clearly outlined in the official plan. Guelph Official Plan 3.5.2: “This plan promotes the design of development proposals in a manner that preserves and enhances the context in which cultural heritage resources are situated.”

• This simply was not done—this is only one of many ignored policies.

• Also consider page 26 of Heritage Property Evaluation: “Cultural heritage value or interest may be intertwined with location or an association with another structure(s) or environment. If these have been removed, the integrity of the property may be seriously diminished. Similarly, removal of historically significant materials (i.e. chimneys, fireplaces, back vestibule and workshop, entire interior or entire reworking of the original craftsmanship would warrant an assessment of the integrity (i.e. modern addition).”

• The Wilson Farmhouse was a part of a landmark farmstead of 108 acres with mature trees, barns, and in close proximity to two other Wilson farmhouses. It is now on 1/3 acre of original land. This has negated three contextual criteria that in turn negated criteria yields information on 19th century farming culture. This is significant erosion of heritage intergrity.

• Councilor Findlay: do you not realize that the staff and mayor have considered facts like these in 200+ pages of documentation that was presented to them.

• Why are you and other pro-severance councilors not supporting the mayor? Have you and the other councilors read our documentation?

• Why did you present the idea of a multi-use REEP house again when it was considered on two other separate occasions? Please:

a) Have you consulted the residents of Northern Heights community as required by the Official Plan Page 135, Section 3.
b) Where is the parking lot area for this multi-use facility?
c) Perimeter parking around a block park is not permitted anywhere else in Guelph. Wilson Park has a major sportsfield–will not allow for extra parking.
d) Will wind turbines and solar panels further degrade the very limited remaining heritage features of this sad old house?
e) $500,000 co-sign from the City after the soccer dome?
f) Rezoning?

• The staff, mayor and informed councilors have endorsed and voted for demolition: How do you justify your position?

• How do you justify your position? ML

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4 Comments

Filed under Heritage, Wilson Farm Park

4 responses to “Councillors, please consider on Nov. 4th Wilson Farmhouse

  1. Susan

    It is sad that ML is still so badly misreading city documents to shore up his incomprehensible attempts to demolish this Guelph heritage resource. One of the key reasons for the delay in taking action on the farmhouse designation is his appeal of the bylaw, an appeal which was unequivocally rejected by the Conservation Review Board (provincially-appointed heritage experts). If the designation had been completed at that time, the farmhouse would have been a beautiful centrepiece of the community by now. It is sad that a newcomer to Guelph understands so little about the established heritage policies and philosophy of our city..
    And, of course, the reason for the destruction of the farm context, “a landmark farmstead of 108 acres with mature trees, barns, and in close proximity to two other Wilson farmhouses” to quote his words, is to replace it with a subdivision of identical modern houses solely for the purpose of a developer’s profit. The “heritage integrity” you mention was destroyed to construct your houses.
    Those of us who love our community care about its unique identity and want it preserved.
    And I have read every page of your documentation and am appalled at its total misunderstanding and misrepresentation of official policies.
    The community has its large park, now its time to go out and enjoy it, and turn the Wilson Farmhouse into the useful and beautiful asset it was meant to be.

  2. Chi-iro

    I hear you. When I read this I get the warm fuzzies. When I read the demolition guys, I hear aggression and selfishness.

  3. Ron

    Susan….what a condescending comment you have left. It doesn’t matter how long the individual has lived in Guelph, they are entitled to their opinions and interpretation of City policies just as much as someone who has lived here a lifetime. Further, preservationists do not hold a monopoly on love for our community. There are those who feel the community would be better served by having the Wilson farmhouse demolished. That doesn’t mean they love their community less than you, they just have a different vision of how it should look.
    Your comments above do nothing more than stoke the fires of discord and do not serve to strengthen your position.

    • Kevin Huinink

      Thanks for this point, Ron.
      Living in this community, I continue to hear my own home, where I raise my family, referred to as a ‘line of boxes’ – a place that will never think to outlive the farmhouse – the pre-fab shoeboxes, the list goes on.
      I feel defensive on behalf of the fantastic builder who put our home together and backs a great product. I lived in a century home before this, and wanted to move to a larger home in the same neighbourhood, but could not afford it. Character costs more than I can afford. Funny to find out that once I moved to a home twice the size, my hydro bill dropped to half of what it was.
      Sorry for the diversion- it’s clear, though, that Susan has taken on bullying tactics that she accuses others of.
      Respect the voices around the table, Susan. Even if they disagree with your own.
      On to the motion – (and I’m not a newcomer, BTW), I’m sad that the Wilson farmhouse was not given more attention in the process of the encroaching subdivision. The fact is, however, is that it was neglected, despite the urging of the developer to have it remain inhabited to keep the integrity of the structure together. This is not a case of everyone against you, or against heritage, or against anything. It is a case of a mishandled asset that no longer belongs where it is. It is a case of wild emotional dreams hoping to re-vive it for something. There are far more valuable assets in the city of Guelph to focus our efforts and money on. This one – well, I hope that it it honored…. Preservation, I feel, will do nothing but drag it into a disrespectful end of failed hopes and possibilities.
      That said, I’m supporting the motion for EOI’s, hoping that the city will have the sense to reject residential offers with home business (day care?) (cafe?) under the guise of community service, as well as to reject dreams that are unrealistic (although right-hearted) given the lack of traffic in this end of town.

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