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Issue No. 161 | April 20, 2010

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Feature Stories

  1. Future of Views of Queen's Park
  2. OMB Rules Against Developer: Saves Talbot Apartments in Toronto
  3. BlogTO: Gould Street Collapse and Demolition

Events

Michael Redhill Speaks on "Consolation"
Wednesday April 21st
+ read


CONSERVATION IN CONTEXT: Changing Historical, Theoretical and Operational Perspectives
June 7  12, 2010
+ read


Lecture: Glenn Mac Arthur - Toronto's Architectural Legacy:
Tuesday, May 4- William Thomas
+ read


Nova Scotias Heritage Churches: Practical Advice on Preserving our Built Heritage
Saturday, April 24th
+ read


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1. Future of Views of Queen's Park
Catherine Nasmith

Panorama shot, "post card" view from north of College Street
View from Queen Street looking north, showing relative height of existing Four Season's to Q.P.

All the arguments have been made, and the matter left to OMB member S.J. Stefanko to decide alone. The decision is expected to be available in about a month.

The OMB has been asked by The Legislative Assembly (LA) of Ontario to reduce the height of a proposed development north of Queen’s Park at 21 Avenue Road in order to avoid further encroachment into the silhouette view of the Legislative Assembly Building, the symbol of Ontario’s democracy. The proposed development has the support of Toronto City Council, but not staff at the City of Toronto Planning, Ontario Heritage Trust or The Ministry of Culture.

The Legislative Assembly is a separate entity from the political process - managing political debate, the Queen’s Park property and hosting visiting delegations, whether school children or dignitaries from other places. The Speaker of the Legislature is the head of the Legislative Assembly and is elected to this position by the other MPP’s. The Speaker must be non-partisan and acts on behalf of all MPP’s in matters affecting the L.A. He is independent of cabinet and political process.

I spent more time than I could afford to last week listening to the arguments from both sides, and I should also say giving participant evidence on behalf of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario in favour of views protection.

Arguing at the OMB against a developer and a municipality who are in agreement is a mug’s game. There are almost no examples of success for such appeals. But it is also highly unusual for the Speaker of the Legislature to be a party at an OMB hearing.

The Speaker did not have support from the Government in making the L.A. case. In spite of requests from the Chair of the Ontario Heritage Trust, Lincoln Alexander, and the President of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, Lloyd Alter, the Ministers of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Culture did not take an official position.

Aileen Carroll, the previous Minister of Culture did not help the Speaker’s case by responding to the Toronto Star Editorial asking her to intervene to protect Queen's Park. “The silhouette is not pristine nor is it imperative to the heritage preservation of the Legislative Building that it be so. View shed is only one of many considerations in heritage preservation. The Legislature is well defined by the wide boulevard of University Ave. for many blocks to the south and well protected by the parkland and open portion of University Ave. to the north.”

The (LA) position, argued by architects Herb Stovel, Chris Borgal, George Baird and planner John Gladki was that the views from the south, along the ceremonial progression north to Queen's Park are as important as the post card views from College Street and should not be further damaged. That implies no increase in height for this site, however it is possible to add a second tower without making matters worse. 

Stovel described the existing view from the vantage points northbound on University Avenue as “muddied” by the existing Four Seasons Hotel building and the Renaissance Plaza, but argued that even with that, the rest of the roof profile can still be seen clearly against sky behind, and it is important that no further encroachment be permitted. Buildings any taller than the existing would dominate the view, and diminish the presence of the seat of government. Herb Stovel went even further and said that no buildings should be seen above the roof of the L.A. from Queen Street, a position also taken in ACO’s participant evidence. That would limit development to 49.5 metres…. nearly exactly the same as the existing height limit of 46m.... Coincidence?

The Speaker for the Legislature spoke with great presence, asking for preservation of the views and dignity of the Assembly. He talked about his first impressions of the processional view up University Avenue and how he had always found the existing buildings in the background, complete with commercial signage on the top, a "blight" that should never have been permitted. He emphasized how often dignitaries visit from other places. Veterans parade up the Avenue to remind us of past sacrifices. University Avenue is a civic place of public remembrance and celebration.

The developer's witnesses argued that City Council supported their scheme and that it had minimal impact on the post card view from north of College Street.

Architect, Michael McLelland gave heritage evidence in favour of the proposal. Mr. McLelland agreed with Aileen Carroll. He also pointed to Julian Smith’s Restoration Plan that identified views to the Legislative Assembly from the north and south as important heritage attributes, and argued that because one can see towers in the background from the north, an important view, that it was reasonable to see towers from the south, another important view. Witnesses for the L.A. were unanimous in giving significantly greater importance to the view to the front of the building.

During the summation Stefanko asked the following question, “If the view from the south is so important why isn’t it more clearly protected?” That may tell us where his thoughts are going.

Several witnesses pointed out the danger that approval of this proposal poses. If more towers of this height are built up Avenue Road, we will soon see no sky behind the L.A. Even if this tower goes ahead there is a need for clearer protection for this view….requiring cooperation between the province and the city.

Watch this space for the OMB decision.

P.S. I would be most interested to get feedback from subscribers on this question. Do you think the existing views from University Avenue should be protected? Yes or No to cnasmith@sympatico.ca  I will keep a tally. 


2. OMB Rules Against Developer: Saves Talbot Apartments in Toronto
Catherine Nasmith

A recent decision, released April 7, dismissed the appeal of Context Developments against the Toronto City Council's refusal to allow demolition and redevelopment of the Talbot Apartments on Bayview Avenue, a rental housing project. The OMB member was Marc Denhez.

The Talbot apartments were not designated when the developer purchased the property. When the City became aware of the threat it designated them under the Ontario Heritage Act.  

The decision is long and contains several significant heritage arguments, and also refers back to how heritage matters were handled in several cases, including the recent Port Dalhousie decision. 

BHN will be carrying a more detailed article on the decision and its implications in an upcoming issue, but in the meantime you can look up the decision and read it for yourself.

Go to the OMB website link below, and paste in the Case number, PL081065. The actual decision is the last document that appears. 

http://www.omb.gov.on.ca/english/eDecisions/eDecisions.html


3. Ontario Heritage Act 5 years Out 2....Arson in Simcoe
David Chambers

On Good Fri am. two heritage homes located in Bradford West Gwillimbury on the 6th conc. just east of hwy 27 were set alight by unknown persons. Both farm houses were unoccupied, insecurly boarded up and owned by Geranium- Metrus Corp.

The Phillips-Stoddart house, a 1/12 storey mud block. 1837 90% original both inside and out, was built by William Pen Phillips a descendant of William Penn of US. This house was one of the oldest if not the oldest house in Simcoe Co. and certainly significant provincially because of the mud block construction. It was listed on the register.and set on fire at 3:30 am.

While firemen were busy with this blaze, another heritage house a few farms east, of much less significance was torched at 6am. This house, known as the Crang house was totally destroyed.

The Phillips-Stoddart house walls and some partitions and doors and parlor fireplace are still intact, but well blackened.

This exceptional house could be restored if council is able to see past the burnt out interior.

Council is very skilled at negotiating developement and planning matters with the many developers that are racing here to make their mark, on some of the best farmland north of Toronto. If they use their same negotiating skills with Geranium this unique example of a long lost building technology can be preserved.

As the owner, Geranium is responsibe, partly because the building was not properly secured.

If the owner continued to lease the house it would probably still be standing.

Also, if the planning Act allowed this farm house to be severed and designated and sold as a private residence, this tragic loss could have been avoided. Such a simple solution. Maybe too simple?

The Province has downloaded this monumental heritage preservation challenge and responsibility to lower tier governments; fairly or unfairly. I think it's long past due for the Province to take some responsibility and to provide some meaningful support at the local level by sorting out planning issues and reminding the apparently untouchable elected officials that they have, in many cases, been ignoring their vital role in the preservation process.

I fear by the time the Province decides to enforce the Heritage Act. as they do the planning Act. our record of preservation here in Ontario will be a total embarrassment.

David Chambers Bond Head. BWG (Former heritage Comm. chair)

Editor's Note:
David Chambers is suggesting that local municipalities need more guidance, and less latitude in how and what they choose to protect. While heritage can be a local matter, it is also of value to all of us. If the Province continues to allow heritage conservation to be left to the vagaries of individual municipal councils it will impact in lots of ways. The first is diminishing the experience of visiting Ontario, for residents and tourists alike...only certain places will retain their distinct charm. I would love to be able to enjoy the beauty of Ontario without having to deal with what my husband and I have labelled the blandscape, the sick ring of disposable sameness that surrounds almost every community and threatens to overwhelm.


4. 11th annual Doors Open Toronto will unlock the city
Shane Gerard and Jane French, City of Toronto

11th annual Doors Open Toronto will unlock the citys architecture on May 29 and 30

Doors Open Toronto, the popular annual citywide celebration featuring free access to architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings, is back for its 11th year. This years Doors Open Toronto will be held on May 29 and 30.

In recognition of heightened public awareness of architecture and the architects who have shaped this city, Doors Open Toronto is going back to its roots: architecture is the theme and central focus in 2010. The 150 buildings will highlight their unique architectural features and stories providing an authentic urban adventure that celebrates Torontos architectural excellence from urban to suburban, blockhouses to bank towers.

Doors Open Toronto programs and locations for 2010 include:

Ask an Architect: Two new programs add the expertise of architects to the visitor experience at more than a dozen locations. Ask an Architect @ their Building and Ask an Architect @ their Office engage architects as on-site hosts at venues they designed as well as at the offices of Diamond and Schmitt Architects, du Toit Allsopp Hillier/ du Toit Architects Limited, Farrow Partnership Architects, Levitt Goodman Architects Ltd., Kasian Architects, Stantec, Taylor Smyth Architects, Zeidler Office and others.

Launch of Architecture Walks: The Toronto Society of Architects (TSA) will launch two Guided Architecture Walking Tours on the Doors Open Toronto weekend. One tour will highlight the architecture of the citys recent cultural renaissance while the second features the historic to modern buildings of the financial district. These tours, developed by the TSA, will include in-depth information about the unique design features, building challenges and urban context for some of Torontos most iconic buildings. Trained volunteers with knowledge and passion for architecture will lead all tours. Following the launch, paid tours will be offered weekly from June through September.

Green and Sustainable Projects: Toronto is an international leader in innovative green and sustainable building projects. The City Hall Podium Green Roof will reopen as the city's largest publicly accessible green roof on the Doors Open Toronto weekend. New landscaped gardens, a courtyard framing the Council Chamber, a podium terrace, and new walkways provide unique views from this urban oasis in the heart of the city. Residents and tourists can also tour Cabbagetowns Hugh Garner Housing Co-operative Inc.  Green Roof; the largest residential green roof in Canada (on completion), featuring a wild garden, storm water retention system and photovoltaic panels. In the heart of the Don Valley, visit the Evergreen Brick Works, recently selected as one of the worlds Top 10 destinations for sustainable travel by National Geographic Traveler.

Torontos Transportation Heritage: Toronto's railway heritage gets on track at the John Street Roundhouse and Park with the opening of the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre. Highlights include a heritage steam locomotive and cars alongside a functioning interlocking tower, the fully restored historic Don Station and a miniature railway traversing the park. Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Trillium, Toronto's legendary island ferry boat still operating in the Toronto Bay. Rehabilitated in Port Colborne in 1974-75, the vessel is the last side-wheeler paddle steamer operating in North America. It will be moored both days at the waters edge in Harbour Square Park (west of the Toronto Island Ferry Docks).

University of Toronto: On Saturday, May 29, the University of Toronto Scarborough campus will feature six buildings on its beautiful campus; from the original 1965 John Andrews Buildings, a massive, poured-concrete, linear structure that stretches for a kilometre along the rim of Highland Creek valley, to the new Science Research Building by Moriyama Teshima Architects (2008). Four other buildings feature work by some of Canadas leading architects including: Academic Resource Centre by Brian MacKay-Lyons and Rounthwaite, Dick & Hadley, Architects (2004); Management Building by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects Inc. (2004); Student Centre by Dunlop Architects (2004); and the Arts & Administration Building by Montgomery Sisam Architects Inc. (2005). A St. George campus highlight is the newly restored and renovated home of Regis College (Gordon & Helliwell, 1900; Larkin Architects Ltd., 2009) in the former Christie House, a late Victorian Mansion situated on Queens Park Circle East.

Doors Open Toronto is produced by the City of Toronto and sponsored by the Toronto Star. Media sponsor: Citytv. Program Sponsor: Woodcliffe. Program Partners: Indigo Books and Music Inc. and Toronto Society of Architects. The complete Buildings to Visit information will be available as of May 1 at www.toronto.ca/doorsopen and the official Program Guide will be published in the Toronto Star on May 27. Media can obtain high-resolution images of Doors Open Toronto locations upon request.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents. For information about non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


- 30 -

Media contacts:
Shane Gerard, Senior Promotions & Communications Coordinator,
Cluster A Communications Unit, 416-397-5711, sgerard@toronto.ca

Jane French, Project Manager, Doors Open Toronto,
Museum Services, Cultural Services, 416-338-0496, jfrench@toronto.ca


5. Heritage Canada Foundation Marks World Heritage Day by encouraging the preservation of Canadas agricultural landmarks
Heritage Canada Foundation

OTTAWA – April 16 2010 – To mark World Heritage Day and its theme, Agricultural Heritage, the Heritage Canada Foundation (HCF) is drawing attention to some of Canada’s agricultural buildings and places.

The historic pattern of farm settlements and the distinctive farm buildings in various regions across Canada are tangible features in our landscape that connect us to our agricultural heritage.

Over the years, Hritage magazine has featured articles on Canada’s agricultural buildings and places:

· “Barn Raisers: Heritage and the Art of Fundraising” (Vol. XII. No. 3)

· “Agricultural Theatres of Saskatchewan’s Moose Mountains” (Vol. XI. No. 3)

· “The Round Barns of the Eastern Townships” (Fall 2003)

Many of Canada’s national historic sites relate to the country’s agricultural heritage:

· The Bar U Ranch in Longwood, Alberta commemorates the history of ranching in Canada.

· Grand Pré Rural Historic District in Kings County, Nova Scotia, which honours Acadian settlements and agricultural history.

· Ottawa’s Central Experimental Farm, is home to the headquarters of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

World Heritage Day, also known as International Day for Monuments and Sites was created in 1982 by ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) and endorsed by UNESCO in 1983.

The Heritage Canada Foundation is a national, membership-based, non-governmental organization created in 1973 as Canada’s National Trust.

For further information:

Carolyn Quinn, Director of Communications, cquinn@heritagecanada.org. Telephone: 613-237-1066 ext. 229; Cell: 613-797-7206

To be removed from the mailing list, send us an email with the word “unsubscribe” in the subject box.

 


6. Call for Nominations
Awards honour efforts in architecture, books, media and community heritage

The Heritage Toronto Awards celebrate outstanding contributions  by professionals and volunteers  in the promotion and conservation of Torontos history and heritage landmarks. Heritage Toronto invites the public to nominate significant 2009 projects they think should be celebrated.

This year, nominations will be accepted in the following categories:

William Greer Architectural Conservation and Craftsmanship - for excellence in the restoration or adaptive reuse of a building 40 years old or older. Projects of all sizes will be considered; from the restoration of the façade or front porch on a house to a major renovation of a commercial building.

Book  for a non-fiction book about Torontos archaeological, built, cultural and/or natural heritage and history, published in 2009.

Media  for a non-fiction production about Torontos archaeological, built, cultural and/or natural heritage and history. Projects such as films, websites, maps, newsletters and exhibits are eligible in this category.

Community Heritage Award  a cash prize awarded to one volunteer-based organization in each of the four Community Council areas for a significant activity that promotes or protects heritage within the Community Council area.

For details about eligibility standards and what should be included in nomination submissions, please see the nomination forms on the Heritage Toronto website www.heritagetoronto.org. The deadline for nominations is Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 4:30pm.

The 36th Annual Heritage Toronto Awards will be presented in October 2010, in conjunction with the William Kilbourn Memorial Lecture.


7. BlogTO: Gould Street Collapse and Demolition

Kyle Rae expresses concern over Gould Street demolition

From Blog TO
From Blog TO

After following the coverage of the Gould Street wall collapse on Friday, I decided to make way down to 335 Yonge Street to take a look at the state of the building for myself. I was fortunate (if you can call it that) to arrive just as construction crews were tearing down a large chunk of the building's façade, apparently for safety reasons.

Crews were smashing it with a large crane-like machine, and the old building looked like it was about to collapse entirely. A nearby police officer did, however, reassure me that it wouldn't and that only loose segments of the wall were in danger of falling.

Click here for Link


8. CBC News: Old church damaged in St. Phillip's NL
CBC News, Ken O'Brien

Anglican priest quiet about church damage

Updated Monday, April 5, 2010

The rector responsible for a century-old church near St. John's that mysteriously had its steeple removed last week says he won't speak about what happened.

Rev. Ed Keeping, rector of St. Philip's Anglican Church, was asked by CBC News on Monday what he knew about the toppling of the steeple. He said he couldn't comment.

But Keeping did respond to criticism the church showed poor timing when it asked for permission to demolish its 116-year-old building in St. Philip's, N.L.

"You know I had an e-mail in my office a couple of days ago saying, 'You know the church shouldn't have done this in Holy Week,'" Keeping said. "Well, the church didn't do it in Holy Week."

The fate of the church building has divided local residents ever since the church council voted for demolition to make room for more graveyard space. The congregation uses a new church building.

A group of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's residents spoke out against the demolition plan, saying the church should be designated a heritage building. This group organized a public meeting on Palm Sunday to discuss the issue. Keeping said he only learned about the meeting the day before, when he returned from a trip to B.C.

Town council later voted to preserve the building, which has lately been used to store materials for recycling.

But last Wednesday, people in the area woke up to find someone had removed the steeple from the old church and toppled it to the ground.

No one has claimed responsibility.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2010/04/05/nl-keeping-quiet-405.html#ixzz0kKEzsUdU

Click here for Link


9. City Hall Marble Lines Drainage Ditch
Ryan McGreal

The white Cherokee marble that cladded City Hall before it was replaced with concrete now lines a drainage ditch near Book Road in Ancaster.

Poster: Last ditch effort brings Hamilton City Hall marble to Ancaster (Image Credit: Neenernet.net)

Graham Crawford, the owner of HIStory + HERitage on James North, has discovered the final resting place of the white Cherokee marble that previously adorned City Hall before the renovation committee decided to replace it with concrete.

Its broken pieces line a drainage ditch in Ancaster.

 

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:City of Hamilton staff prepared a 61 page report (http://www.hamilton.ca/Hamilton.Portal/Inc/PortalPDFs/ClerkPDFs/committee-of-the-whole/2005/May09/PD05036.pdf) recommending designation of City Hall - which Council accepted and passed as BY-LAW NO. 06-011. The Marble was mentioned no less than 20 times, and that the marble cladding on all four facades is specifically identified in the Reasons for Designation.


10. Destroying Preston's Grand View School - Another Permanent Loss
Kenneth J. Hoyle - OALA, FCSLA, CAHP

Looking Down The Barrel Of Demolition Once Again

Photo right: by Thomas Hagey. Grand View School Braces Itself

I have read with interest the articles regarding the proposal by the Waterloo Region Public School Board to demolish Grand View Public School. The story repeats a familiar, worn-out scenario. Owner owns old building. Owner wants to redevelop property. Heritage advocates object. Owner pleads hardship. Council comes to the rescue of the owner and the building is demolished. As a result the community is polarized; heritage advocates are exhausted and labeled as obstructionists, living in the past and unrealistic. The City loses some of its charm, Council is seen as the protector of property rights and the long term public interest is diminished.

Destroying Grand View School

Why is this battle staged time and time again? Too often, our Council, and many in our city, consider our built heritage just not important enough to conserve. When weighed with other matters like re-development and even parking spaces, our built heritage becomes a casualty in the quest for our individual interests.

Click here for Link


11. Gettysburg Times: Son of Cyclo's architect hopes it's conserved.
SCOT ANDREW PITZER

Bill Schwartz/Gettysburg Times. STILL STANDING - The old Cyclorama Center at Gettysburg, viewed from the southwest Thursday afternoon.

 The son of the architect that designed the Cyclorama Center at Gettysburg National Military Park hopes a federal judge’s final ruling in a three-year court case results in the conservation of the building, opposed to its planned demolition.

"I know my father in Heaven would hope that this reprise would allow the Park Service to step back and reconsider its plan, and perhaps commission us to re-purpose our building," Dion Neutra, 84, said Thursday, the day following the judge’s decision.

"A whole generation of Americans who have visited this site over the years — 5,000 of which have signed our petitions — would be grateful to see their tax-dollar-paid-for structure thus saved," concluded Neutra, of Los Angeles.

Neutra, who previously claimed that he would "chain himself to the building" if it was ever razed, believes the structure could be re-used as a museum and diorama for visitors to experience the battlefield landscape changes that have occurred since 1863.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan told the Park Service in a March 31st order that it must go back and reconsider its 1999 decision to raze the 48-year-old Cyclorama Center, designed by nationally-renowned architect Richard Neutra. The park planned to knock down the building, which sits atop Ziegler’s Grove near Pickett’s Charge, as part of its long-time plan to restore the 6,000-acre battlefield to its Civil War era appearance. Those plans are now likely delayed.

GNMP spokeswoman Katie Lawhon referred all questions Thursday regarding Hogan’s ruling to the Department of Justice, where spokesman Andrew Ames said that they’re "reviewing the court’s decision." "No determination has been made as to the government’s next step in this matter," said Ames, explaining that there is no timetable.

Hogan’s ruling in the three-year-old lawsuit to prevent the building’s demolition is final, so any appeal would have to be made through another circuit court.

In Dec. 2006, Virginia-based preservation group — Recent Past Preservation Network — filed a suit to prevent the demolition, arguing that the park did not follow national environmental laws in its 1999 General Management Plan, when it decided to bulldoze the building. Twelve months ago, federal Magistrate Judge Alan Kay recommended that the U.S. District Court rule in favor of the preservation group’s suit, writing that the Park Service acted "unlawfully" when it decided to raze the old Cyclorama Center, by not evaluating alternatives. In Hogan’s ruling Wednesday, he concurred with Kay’s resolution, telling the park that it must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.

The park can still tear down the building, but it must follow procedure before arriving at that result.

"It’s a big moment in historic preservation," said Christine Madrid French, the former president of the Recent Past Preservation Network.

"Preservation ideas have shifted in the last decade to accommodate more of the modern buildings in American architectural history," said Madrid-French. "We’re very excited to see that the building can have a continued contribution at Gettysburg, if the Park Service can examine its future," she concluded.

Click here for Link


12. Globe and Mail: Bay of Fundy Still in Running for 7 Wonders of Nature
Oliver Moore

Bay of Fundy still in contention for seven natural wonders of the world

Riding a tide of online popularity, the Bay of Fundy is in the running to be among the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The bay dividing Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is the only Canadian place still in contention in a contest launched by a Swiss foundation.

The concept is based on the Seven Wonders of the World revered by the ancients, which have mostly returned to dust. (Only the Great Pyramid of Giza still stands from the list compiled by Herodotus.) So a decade ago, the foundation launched a search for seven more, calling on people around the globe to vote for their favourites, anointing buildings and monuments from the 20th century back to before the time of Christ.

Now, looking beyond human-made grandeur, the foundation is seeking to identify the seven natural wonders of the world. A total of 440 entries has been whittled to 77 and then to 28, with the Bay of Fundy a dark horse in a spectacular field ranging from the Amazon to Taipei’s Yushan.

Fundy’s pitch

The bay is known for its massive tidal variance: Measured at 16 metres, it is the biggest in the world.

Those backing the pitch point as well to the sites of the area’s first European settlements. There have also been dinosaur finds, including the world’s smallest and Canada’s oldest, as well as three UNESCO sites and numerous species of whales spotted nearby.

Click here for Link


13. Ottawa Citizen: Catholic Convent at Risk
Becky Rynor

When is a heritage site not a heritage site?

A used-car dealership stands beside Caffé Mio on Richmond Road at Western Avenue. Car lots continue to flourish along the strip under city zoning bylaws, backing the argument that the area is indeed a commercial site.from Ottawa Citizen

The argument that an area of Richmond Road should be protected doesn't wash with some backers of development. 

To a 10-year-old kid growing up along Ottawa's Richmond Road in 1947, "anything west of Island Park was pretty barren."

"It was pretty far away. That was country," Ken Kavanat, now 73, recalls. He lived just east of Island Park Drive, at the corner of Richmond Road and Western Avenue.

Back then, he says, "Richmond Road was the road to Britannia Beach. You'd take the streetcar. I don't think it was ever village-like. The only village was Westboro around Churchill to Roosevelt Avenue."

Slightly west of Island Park was Hilson elementary school -- which Kavanat briefly attended -- and the convent for Les Soeurs de la Visitation d'Ottawa, built in 1864. The cloistered Catholic nuns have occupied the 51/2-acre site since 1913, but are scheduled to leave in September after the prime piece of property was sold to Ashcroft Homes for $12.7 million.

Ashcroft is proposing the site be developed for mixed use, including condos, a seniors building and commercial spaces, some open areas and courtyards with public access. Underground parking would have one entrance off Richmond Road and another off Byron Avenue.

It is seen as a rare opportunity for development within the Greenbelt. However, opposition at public information meetings has been loud and furious, with some arguing the plans will negatively impact the area's "village-like" roots.

But Rod Lahey, architect for the project, says it's nostalgia for something that never existed.

"They're trying to turn it back into something it never was," he says. "Richmond Road was basically a highway into Ottawa. It was a commercial strip. That's why you have so many used-car lots and car dealerships along there."

Click here for Link


14. Owen Sound Sun Times: expert to study the historical significance of Alexandra Community School
DENIS LANGLOIS

Board hires expert to study Alexandra's historical value

The area's public school board will pay a heritage expert to study the historical significance of Alexandra Community School in Owen Sound, but a board official says he doesn't expect it will reveal anything to warrant protecting the 1911 structure from demolition.

"We don't see anything on the current building that meets the criteria of the Ontario Heritage Act," said Al Gibb, manager of plant services for the Bluewater District School Board.


The act calls for the preservation of buildings with a rare or unique design or that have significant historical, cultural, community or associative value.

The Provincial Policy Statement, which guides municipal planning, urges conserving "significant" built heritage resources.

Gibb said no one is urging the school board to preserve the original Alexandra school. City hall has received no letters of concern either.

But, even without written concerns, city council moved to protect the original wing of St. Mary's High School, which is only 20 years older than Alexandra, from demolition. However, unlike the 1891 annex of St. Mary's, the original Alexandra school is not listed on the city's register of heritage properties.

The Bluewater school board has submitted plans to city hall to build a new 257-student Alexandra school on the northern section of its property. Construction is expected to begin this spring, with completion set for fall 2011. Once the new school opens, the original Alexandra will be torn down.

Earlier this week city council voted to approve a zoning change on a strip of land adjacent to the original Alexandra property to allow construction of the school and a parking lot.

The board's next step is to submit a site plan to the city's planning division. Mayor Ruth Lovell Stanners said that will be the time for council to debate the board's plan to raze the original school.

At first the city's planning department and the province raised no concerns about demolishing the school. Now the city and province are requiring the Bluewater board to submit a study about its heritage value.

Council's motion to approve the zoning change also directs the city's community services director to "immediately advise" council of "any application" to demolish the existing Alexandra school.
"Should council find merit upon application for (a) demolition permit or in considering the heritage evaluation, there is always the opportunity to recommend that the property be listed or designated under the Ontario Heritage Act," says a report to council from community planner Margaret Potter.

Gibb said the board's property for Alexandra, which is three acres, is not large enough for two buildings. The area now occupied by the school will be converted into a playing field for the new, single-storey school.

Gibb said blocking demolition would cause problems for the school board.

"It would be a real concern and it would delay things," he said.

City/county Coun. Arlene Wright said she has heard from some people concerned that Alexandra will become another boarded-up, deteriorating building if the city blocks demolition.

"If we don't let them tear the school down then the children will not have a place to play," she said.

Click here for Link


15. Owen Sound Sun Times: Paisley Inn owner considers selling
SCOTT DUNN

ARRAN-ELDERSLIE: Council to discuss building in closed session Monday

Burke Maidlow said Friday he wants to turn the Paisley Inn into artists' studios, but he's also talking to realtors about selling the building.

"I may put it up for sale. I don't know what I'm doing," the inn's owner said in exasperation in a phone interview.

"I'm just trying, after five years, trying to get a building permit," to fix the roof on the west wing of the heritage building.

Monday is his deadline to respond to a list of issues presented by Arran-Elderslie chief building official Stephen Walmsley before he'll issue the permit.
Maidlow says he'll tell Walmsley he has an architect on board. He's expecting a new list of requirements to meet upon completion of the current list.

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16. TheRecord.com: Cambridge won't block Grand View school demolition
Kevin Swayze

CAMBRIDGE — City council won’t halt demolition of Grand View public school, but still wants the Preston landmark saved for posterity.

Councillors on Monday night voted 4-1 against starting the process to protect the 1923 building under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Instead, Mayor Doug Craig — who voted against designation — will continue talks with school officials to find a way to save the building overlooking Hamilton Street.

“I’m ever hopeful. We’re in a very short time frame here. I don’t want to get anybody’s hopes up.”

The city’s heritage advisory committee wants council to stop plans to raze the building in exchange for a new and bigger $7 million school. Since it decided a month ago to proceed with demolition, the school board has publicly rebuffed city overtures to save the school. A new Grand View is planned to open in fall 2011, after which the old Grand View would be demolished.
 

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17. therecord.com: Tannery buildings set to be torn down without public discussion
Terry Pender

Local architect wants decision publicly debated

Heritage advocates are protesting a plan to tear down empty industrial buildings on Joseph Street to make room for a parking lot that will serve tenants of the former Lang Tannery. Record staff

KITCHENER — A local architect says a group of historic downtown buildings could be demolished to make room for a gravel parking lot with no public discussion or consultation.

John MacDonald wants the city to protect a group of four old industrial buildings on Joseph Street, which formed part of the Lang Tannery, before a demolition permit is issued.

The tannery buildings are owned by Cadan Inc., the Toronto developer in the midst of a $30 million redevelopment of the tannery’s main building across the street.

Cadan Inc. wants to level the four buildings, located at 189-204 Joseph St. and 14 Linden Ave., for more parking spaces for the commercial tenants leasing space in the main tannery building.

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18. Toronto Star: Alexandra Park Redevelopment
Kenneth Kidd

The rethinking of 'Alex Park' public housing complex

A new proposal would almost completely replace the 1960s design that helped make the downtown complex a model of public housing, but some see space for a more nuanced approach. Jerome Markson has barely crossed Dundas St. when he stops in his tracks: "Why is that silly fence there?" The fence in question, metal and roughly two metres tall, runs between the sidewalk and a little parking lot at Alexandra Park, the downtown public housing project that Markson helped design in the mid-1960s. Back then, there was no fence, but further west, there was a wall separating the street from some of the project's townhouses. Jane Jacobs, Markson recalls, always quizzed about him about that, thought the wall an unnecessary barrier. "I think I was a little afraid of having the front doors right smack along Dundas," he says. The concrete wall has since been cut to about half its original height, and a metal fence added on top of what remains, an alteration Markson finds almost as puzzling. But this is mere tinkering in the face of what might happen. For the past couple of years, residents have been busy working with Toronto Community Housing Corp., city councillor Adam Vaughan and Urban Strategies Inc. on what could become a complete overhaul of the site.

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19. the Guardian / guardian.co.uk: Edinburgh faces legal action over Caltongate development
Severin Carrell

European commission rules council illegally sold off area on Royal Mile at the heart of city's World Heritage site

Edinburgh council faces legal action after the European commission ruled it illegally sold land at the centre of an international row over the protection of the city's historic buildings, the Guardian can reveal.

The Scottish capital has already been criticised by Unesco, the United Nations culture agency, after the council approved plans for a £300m hotel and offices development at Caltongate on the medieval Royal Mile, which lies at the heart of the city's World Heritage site.

Senior council officials have been told that the European commission has decided it breached a number of European laws by selling the Caltongate site to the developer Mountgrange for £5m without putting the land – a former bus depot which sits next to Waverley station – out for sale on the open market.

In a letter passed to the Guardian, an official in the internal markets directorate discloses that the commission will start infringement proceedings for breaching regulations on public procurement, as well as breaking rules on equal treatment, non-discrimination and transparency. Under European law the proceedings are formally taken against the UK government.

The action follows a complaint from an architectural writer and historian, David Black, a founder of the Old Town Trust. "The mismanagement of Edinburgh is becoming quite legendary," he said.

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20. the Guardian / guardian.co.uk: Lord Foster fires up campaign to save rusting Russian radio tower
Luke Harding in Moscow

Architect brands Lenin-commissioned structure as a work of 'dazzling genius' and inspiration that must be saved

Lord Foster is backing a campaign to save Moscow's neglected steel tower Photograph: Mihail Chekalov/Alamy

From a distance it looks a bit like an upturned wastepaper basket, soaring over the concrete skyline of southern Moscow.

The Russian capital's unique Soviet-era radio station was built in 1922 to spread the message of revolutionary communism around the world, but it is badly neglected and suffering from corrosion.

Now British architect Lord Foster has backed a campaign to save the 150-metre-high steel tower designed by the engineering genius Vladimir Shukhov.

In an open letter, Lord Foster describes the tower as "a structure of dazzling brilliance and great historical importance". Calling the structure Shukhov's masterpiece, Foster says it is the "first major landmark of the Soviet period".

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Editor's Note:Lord Foster's open letter can be seen at, http://www.shukhov.org/news.html?n=63&id=1#news_63