From a resident
I have been following progress of the Wilson/Ingram Farmhouse issue over the years and have now been compelled to write as demolition nears. I am not concerned with the demolition and the loss of this property as, to me, it merely represents a near-sighted risk that was taken and failed. Had the building been sited on a proper lot within the subdivision this failure wouldn’t have occurred.
What I am concerned about, however, is due process.
I am unable to find (after searching through the City’s website) a copy of the report that was presented to Council in April 26, 2010, but expect that it made reference to Section 126.96.36.199 of the Official Plan, which reads:
” The farmhouse at 595 Victoria Road North will be incorporated into the design of the main public square for the lands located along the west side of Victoria Road, providing opportunity for the use of this building as a public facility (community centre or library) or alternatively, to be retained as a residential use.”
The key word here is “will”, shown highlighted, and which important word is used 768 times in the Official Plan. The City of Toronto has, in public reports indicated that “The interpretation policies of the Plan provided that use of the term ‘will’ is prescriptive, to be interpreted as equivalent to ‘shall’.” Although I can’t find such a statement in Guelph documents, this interpretation seems appropriate, especially since a demonstration of leadership is desirable.
The following statement is found on the City’s website:
“When a proposal is made that does not conform with the Official Plan, the proposal cannot proceed without the processing and approval of an Official Plan Amendment by Guelph City Council.”
Both of these statements from and relating to the City’s Official Plan seem unambiguous and clear. The proposal to demolish the farmhouse “…does not conform with the Official Plan…” What demolition without OPA will do is establish an unfortunate precedent for re-developers everywhere to attempt to disregard such statements on the basis of what Guelph did – probably the type of leadership for which Guelph does not wish to be recognized. Proceeding without due process would also not be in keeping keeping with a vision of “making a [positive] difference”, nor as an expression of stated values of integrity and excellence. JS