The headline and opening paragraphs read as follows:
To treasure or tear down Hamilton’s Victorian storefronts? The debate rages
The Globe and Mail
Jan. 5, 2013
Near the heart of Hamilton sit four Victorian commercial buildings, forming an even streetwall on the south side of Gore Park. Two of these storefronts were designed in the 1840s by William Thomas, the storied architect responsible for Toronto’s St. Lawrence Hall; the others were constructed some thirty years later.
Now, the company that owns these structures has proposed tearing them down, touching off a battle over redevelopment in a city whose downtown is in the midst of a renaissance.
Some locals insist the buildings must stay, and say the incident shows up the city’s slipshod approach to heritage preservation. The owner, for his part, argues the structures are too far gone to save.
[To read the full story, click on the link in the first sentence of this blog post.]
Message from ACO: Please Write the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport To Stop Demolition of 4 Key Historic Buildings in Hamilton
Susan Radcliffe of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) has sent out the following email message:
A new crisis is evolving in our heritage world, and we need your help.
A key part of Hamilton’s downtown is threatened with demolition. The four buildings are pre-Confederation, and one of them was designed by William Thomas, architect of the Brock Monument and the St. Lawrence Hall.
In Saturday’s Globe and Mail, Adrian Morrow wrote: ” The province has the power to intervene, but likely will not. A spokesperson for Minister Michael Chan, whose portfolio includes heritage, said the buildings are purely a local matter.”
We don’t agree.
I have attached the letter I sent to Minister Chan, and hope that you can adapt it to urge him to take immediate action. The developer seems to have taken advantage of the Christmas holidays to prevent a full discussion by the Heritage Committee and City Council of designation options, and the demolition permit may be issued as early as Wednesday, January 9. Please send the Minister an email as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org
Letter to the Minister:
Please send the Minister an email as soon as possible at email@example.com
The Honourable Michael Chan,
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport,
Queen’s Park, Ontario
January 1, 2012.
FOR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION
Dear Minister Chan,
The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario seeks your immediate intervention in the pending demolition of buildings which constitute the streetwall of Gore Park in Hamilton.
The buildings at risk are 18-28 King Street East. These form the southern face of Hamilton’s central civic square and are comprised of two pre-Confederation buildings designed by William Thomas and two four-storey Victorian storefronts.
On December 4, 2012, the owner of these buildings obtained a demolition permit for the entire span of buildings. The permit may be executed as of January 9, 2013. We question the need to obtain a demolition permit over a holiday time period that has no Municipal Council meeting scheduled.
In response, Hamilton’s Municipal Heritage Committee advised City Council on December 20, 2012 that the buildings should be designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. However, given the municipal holiday schedule, Council will not meet until after the demolition permit is effective.
Under these exceptional circumstances, the remaining avenue for protection rests with your office. Specifically, the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario asks that you immediately (and specifically before January 9, 2013) initiate the process to designate these buildings as property of cultural heritage value or interest of provincial significance, pursuant to Section 34.5 of the Ontario Heritage Act.
Alternatively, we would ask that you exercise your authority to grant a stop order under Section 35.2 of the Act. This will provide an opportunity for the Council of the City of Hamilton to give effect to the recommendation of its Municipal Heritage Committee and designate the property under Part IV of the Act.
The reasons for designation provided by City staff are attached as an appendix. It is the position of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario that these buildings clearly meet the standard for designation, based upon the criteria prescribed in Regulation 9/06. The buildings have design and physical value because of the association with William Thomas, a foremost architect of the period, and because of the rarity of pre- Confederation commercial buildings and the design quality of these individual buildings. Perhaps more importantly, these buildings help to define Hamilton’s most distinctive civic landmark – a public space which has constituted the heart of the city for over 150 years.
Yours Truly, etc.