Built Heritage Sub-Committee / Sous-comité du patrimoine bâti
October 13, 2016 / 13 octobre 2016
and / et
Planning Committee / Comité de l'urbanisme
October 25, 2016 / 25 octobre 2016
and Council / et au Conseil
October 26, 2016 / 26 octobre 2016
Submitted on October 4, 2016
Soumis le 4 octobre 2016
John L. Moser,
General Manager / Directeur général,
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department / Service de la planification, de l'Infrastructure et du développement économique
Lee Ann Snedden, Acting Chief / Chef par intérim,
Development Review Services / Services d’Examen des projets d'aménagement, Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department / Services de la planification, de l'infrastructure et du développement économique
(613) 580-2424, 25779, LeeAnn.Snedden@ottawa.ca
Report Author / Auteur du rapport:
Anne Fitzpatrick, Planner / Urbaniste, Development Review Services / Services d’Examen des projets d’aménagement, Heritage Services Section / Section des Services du Patrimoine
(613) 580-2424, 15203, Anne.Fitzpatrick@ottawa.ca
Ward: SOMERSET (14)
File Number: ACS2016-PIE-PGM-0157
SUBJECT: Application to demolish 234 O’Connor Street, a property designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act and located in the Centretown Heritage Conservation District
OBJET: Demande de démolition visant le 234, rue O’Connor, un bien désigné en vertu de la partie V de la Loi sur le patrimoine de l’Ontario et situé dans le district de conservation du patrimoine du centre-ville
That the Built Heritage Sub-Committee recommend that Planning Committee recommend that Council:
1. Refuse the application to demolish 234 O’Connor Street, a property located in the Centretown Heritage Conservation District, designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act submitted on August 4, 2016; and
2. Refuse the application to construct a temporary park at 234 O’Connor Street in the Centretown Heritage Conservation District, designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act submitted on August 4, 2016.
(Note: The statutory 90-day timeline for consideration of this application under the Ontario Heritage Act will expire on November 6, 2016.)
(Note: Approval to alter this property under the Ontario Heritage Act must not be construed to meet the requirements for the issuance of a building permit.)
RECOMMANDATIONS DU RAPPORT
Que le Sous-comité du patrimoine bâti recommande au Comité de l’urbanisme de recommander à son tour au Conseil :
1. De refuser la demande de démolition visant le 234, rue O’Connor, un bienfonds situé dans le district de conservation du patrimoine du centre-ville et désigné en vertu de la partie V de la Loi sur le patrimoine de l’Ontario, présentée le 4 août 2016;
2. De refuser la demande de construction d’un parc temporaire au 234, rue O’Connor, un bien-fonds situé dans le district de conservation du patrimoine du centre-ville et désigné en vertu de la partie V de la Loi sur le patrimoine de l’Ontario, présentée le 4 août 2016.
(Nota : Le délai réglementaire de 90 jours d’examen de cette demande, exigé en vertu de la Loi sur le patrimoine de l’Ontario, prendra fin le 6 novembre 2016.)
Nota : L’approbation de la demande de modification aux termes de la Loi sur le patrimoine de l’Ontario ne signifie pas pour autant qu’elle satisfait aux conditions de délivrance d’un permis de construire.)
The building at 234 O’Connor Street is a two-and-one-half-storey, wood frame, brick clad structure with a front gable roof. It is located on the west side of O’Connor Street between Somerset and Cooper Streets. Based on Fire Insurance Plans, the building was initially constructed between 1879 and 1901 with two, two-storey rear additions. It is identified as a Category 2 building in the Centretown Heritage Conservation District (HCD). The upper levels of the building were damaged by a fire and it has been vacant for approximately 15 years. There is a parking lot to the south of the building and a two storey red brick building with a modern addition to the north. On the west side of the street, there is a four storey red brick apartment building, a two storey red brick building and a six storey apartment building (see Documents 1, 2 and 3).
The Centretown HCD was designated in 1997 for its cultural heritage value as a late 19th and early 20th century residential community within walking distance of Parliament Hill. The HCD features a variety of building types that include single-detached, semidetached row houses and small apartment buildings constructed in the late 19th and early 20th century. The character of the HCD is unified by the dominance of red brick and wood (see Document 4).
This report has been prepared because applications for demolition and new construction in heritage conservation districts designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act require the approval of Council.
Timeline and Additional Applications/Orders
This property has been the subject several other applications and orders:
• In November 2015, the applicant submitted an application to the Ottawa Fire Services requesting a Fire Marshal Demolition Order. Ottawa Fire Services stated that the property did not pose an immediate threat to public safety as a fire risk. The Ottawa Fire Service supported the demolition of the building but suggested the building go through the standard Demolition Control Protocol and timeframe.
• In January 2016, the property owner submitted an application for Demolition Control to demolish a building and construct a temporary park. Demolition Control is required when a property owner wishes to demolish all or part of a building and is not building a replacement structure. This application was put on hold pending resolution of the application under the Ontario Heritage Act.
• On August 8, 2016 the City received an application under the Ontario Heritage Act to demolish the building and construct a temporary park.
• In August, Building Code Services issued an Order Requiring Tests and Samples and an Order to Remedy an Unsafe Building, which identified stabilization and security measures that must be undertaken.
This application is to demolish the existing house at 234 O’Connor Street and to create a temporary park. The proposed temporary park features a mix of hard and soft landscaping (see Document 5). The building at 234 O’Connor Street was constructed between 1879-1901 and is an example of a simple vernacular dwelling. The Heritage Survey Form, prepared as part of the Centretown HCD Study in 1996, identifies features on the building that include decorative brick veneer, simple wood trim and a covered entry.
Centretown Heritage Conservation District Study
The Conservation and Restoration of Heritage Residential Properties (VII.5.3)
The Centretown HCD Study identifies the significance of the wide variety of residential building types that exist within its boundaries and the prevalence of turn-of-the-century single family homes that are a dominant pattern of the neighbourhood. The HCD Study encourages the conservation and restoration of residential properties and states that, “Whatever the pattern of evolution, most of these buildings retain enough of their original form, material and decorative work to give a strong sense of the historical character of the streetscapes...”.
The application to demolish the building at 234 O’Connor Street does not meet the guidelines for Conservation and Restoration of Heritage Residential Properties because restoration and conservation are not being proposed.
Building Conservation and Infill Guidelines (V11.5)
The Centretown HCD Study also has the following guidelines related to Building Conservation and Infill:
1. The Centretown area has a dominant late-nineteenth century/turn-of-the-century character which established the essential residential and commercial aspect of the proposed district.
5. Because of the relatively high number of demolitions, many streetscapes are now interrupted by vacant lots. It is important to encourage infill development, and to promote design which is sympathetic to existing types and which re-establishes streetscape continuity.
The application to demolish the building at 234 O’Connor Street does not meet the guidelines for Building Conservation and Infill. The demolition of the structure would result in the loss of a turn-of-the-century building. The temporary park, would disrupt the streetscape continuity and result in more than half of the eastern block of O’Connor Street between Cooper and Somerset Streets being vacant.
Screening of Surface Parking Lots (VII.5.7)
The Centretown HCD Study also has the following guidelines related to the Screening of Surface Parking Lots:
• Surface parking lots are a particular problem in Centretown because of the instability that has affected the area in the recent past. This instability has led to building demolitions without any immediate redevelopment, and the use of surface parking as an interim income source.
• It is clear by now that many of these parking lots have become medium rather than short term arrangements. Many of them are visual eyesores, and detract significantly from adjacent properties and from the continuity of the streetscape.
The application to demolish the building at 234 O’Connor Street proposes a temporary park and not a surface parking lot. However, this policy is applicable because the park is also a temporary use, and the loss of the building will have a similar impact on the continuity of the streetscape. The applicant does not have a specific timeframe for when a development could take place. Overall, the application to demolish the building at 234 O’Connor Street does not meet the guidelines for the Centretown HCD. The building is in a deteriorated state, as it has sat vacant for fifteen years. However, the heritage attributes of 234 O’Connor Street, which are the form, scale, massing and the red brick construction could be retained and incorporated into a new development.
Standards and Guidelines
The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada were adopted by Council in 2008 and are used to assess applications under the Ontario Heritage Act. The following Standards are applicable for this application:
Standard 1(a): Conserve the heritage value of an historic place. Do not remove, replace or substantially alter its intact or repairable character-defining elements.
Standard 3: Conserve heritage value by adopting an approach calling for minimal intervention.
Standard 6(a): Protect and, if necessary, stabilize an historic place until any subsequent intervention is undertaken.
The application to demolish the building at 234 O’Connor Street does not meet the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. Standard 1(a) states that the overarching objective of heritage conservation is to conserve heritage value. Standard 6a) was written to acknowledge that “there may be a period of vacancy in the life of any historic place...” and encourages the protection and stabilization of the structure until a use for the building can be found. The demolition of the building, rather than restoration, repair or stabilization is not in keeping with the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.
The building at 234 O’Connor Street is a two-and-one-half-storey, wood frame brick clad structure with a rubble-stone foundation. The property has been vacant for approximately 15 years, after a fire caused damage to the upper floors. The windows and doors have been removed and the openings have been covered with plywood. All interior finishes and fixtures have been removed, with the exception of the plaster ceilings on the ground floor of the original building.
As part of the application, the applicant submitted a structural assessment (November 2015) conducted by Cleland Jardine Engineering Limited (CJEL) which is included in the Cultural Heritage Impact Statement (see Document 6). An updated structural assessment (June 2016) was also submitted (Document 7). The department retained John G. Cooke and Associates Limited (JCAL), heritage masonry specialists, to provide a second opinion on the building and the structural assessment provided by the applicant (Document 8).
In general, the reports identify similar structural issues, including:
• Signs of differential settlement in the foundation
• The poor condition of the mortar joints of the rubble-stone foundation walls
• Fire damage localised at the south-west of the original building’s second storey
• The west wall’s brick masonry veneer is buckling outwards and is in danger of collapsing
• The roofing of the west addition is in very poor condition
The reports have differing opinions on the extent of the damage and the methods through which they should be repaired. The CJEL report (2015) states that given the total value of the repairs it is not cost beneficial to salvage the property. The updated CJEL report (2016) concludes that the property should be demolished as extensive repairs are required to the wood framing, the foundation deterioration has progressed to a point that complete removal and reconstruction is required, and deterioration of the brick cladding has progressed to the point that it now poses a significant risk to public safety.
In general, the JCAL report recommends repair and restoration over removal and replacement. The JCAL report indicates that the damage to the brick cladding and framing is not as extensive as indicated in the CJEL report and identifies elements of the building such as the lumber and historic clay brick, which are high quality materials. The report states that the building’s foundation does not need to be entirely replaced with new cast-in-place concrete but can be repaired by underpinning the exterior wall and re-pointing the mortar to prevent further settlement. The JCAL report concludes that the building is reasonably repairable and indicates the heritage value of the building should be taken into consideration when considering demolition. The Heritage Section supports the findings and recommended approach to repairs that are identified in the JCAL report.
Cultural Heritage Impact Statement
Section 4.6.1 of the Official Plan provides direction related to the preparation of Cultural Heritage Impact Statements (CHIS) for properties designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act.
A CHIS is required where an application has the, potential to adversely affect the designated resource. Heritage staff determined that the proposal had the potential to adversely impact the Centretown HCD and a CHIS was required as part of the application. The complete CHIS is attached as Document 6.
The CHIS was prepared by Commonwealth Historic Resource Management. The CHIS identifies the development of a small pocket park that will soften the edge of O’Connor Street and provide a visual buffer to the adjacent heritage building to the north and the surface parking lot to the south of the site as a positive impact of the demolition. The CHIS identifies the demolition of a Category 2 heritage resource that is adjacent to a coherent group of heritage buildings extending west along Cooper Street, and the Dominion Chalmers United Church and the apartment building across the street as a negative impact.
The CHIS includes the structural assessment by Cleland Jardine Engineering Limited, which recommends that the property be demolished. As noted in Document 6, the report concluded that, given the total value of the repairs, it was not cost beneficial to salvage the property. Alternatives to the demolition that were identified include:
• Retain the building and undertake rehabilitation similar to the work being done to the building across the street. This was the owner’s original intent. He was discouraged from taking this approach based on the condition of the building and cost to undertake the renovation as indicated in Appendix C.
• There is an existing desire line that has developed into a path cutting across the south-east corner of the site from the sidewalk into the surface parking lot to the south. A stone dust path should be developed along the line of the path.
The CHIS concludes that:
The overall condition of the existing building is poor…The building should be demolished and a new building constructed that reflects the form and mass of the original front portion of 234 O’Connor Street as specified by the Section 60 overlay.
Heritage Section Staff agree that the demolition of a Category 2 building is a negative impact of the proposed development. However, staff do not agree that a temporary park is a benefit to the HCD as it would disrupt the streetscape continuity. Staff agree with the identified alternative to retain the building and the report by JCAL identified that the building is reasonably repairable. The Centretown HCD was designated in 1997 for its cultural heritage value as a late 19th and early 20th century residential community within walking distance to Parliament Hill. The demolition of one of these residential building and a disruption of the continuity of the streetscape would have a negative impact on the HCD.
Provincial Policy Statement
Staff have reviewed this proposal and have determined that it is not consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement, 2014 (PPS). Section 2.6.1 states that “Significant built heritage resources and significant cultural heritage landscapes shall be conserved.” The designation of the Centretown HCD in 1997 acknowledged the cultural heritage value of the area’s buildings and streetscapes, and the demolition of the building is not consistent with the PPS.
The department does not support the proposed demolition of 234 O’Connor Street for the following reasons:
• The proposed demolition is not consistent with the HCD Study
• The proposed demolition is not consistent with the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada
• The proposed demolition is not consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement that states significant heritage resources shall be conserved.
• The structural assessment prepared by John G. Cooke 7 Associates Ltd. indicated that the building is in a reasonably repairable condition.
The applicant proposes to create a temporary park on the lands made vacant by the proposed demolition. The department does not support the construction of the temporary park because it would require the demolition of the building located at 234 O’Connor Street, which is not recommended.
There are no rural implications associated with this report.
The Centretown Citizens Community Association supports staff recommendation to refuse the application for demolition and their comments can be found in Document 9.
Heritage Ottawa was notified of the application and offered the opportunity to provide comments.
Neighbours within 30 metres of the property were notified of the application and offered the opportunity to comment.
COMMENTS BY THE WARD COUNCILLOR
Councillor McKenney provided the following comments on the application:
“I agree with the staff recommendation to refuse the application to demolish 234 O’Connor Street. I thank staff for their work on this file, and in particular for commissioning a second opinion on the building and the structural assessment provided by the applicant. I strongly encourage Building Code Services to ensure compliance with orders to make the building structurally sound and to preserve its heritage values so that we do not lose this building as a result of demolition by neglect.”
Should the recommendations be adopted and the application for demolition be refused, the owner of the property may appeal this decision to the Ontario Municipal Board. A hearing on this matter is estimated at one day and can be accommodated within staff resources.
RISK MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS
There are no risk implications associated with this report.
There are no direct financial implications. In the event of an appeal, staff would defend Council’s position.
There are no accessibility impacts associated with this report.
TERM OF COUNCIL PRIORITIES
This project addresses the following Term of Council Priority:
HC4 – Support Arts, Heritage and Culture
APPLICATION PROCESS TIMELINE STATUS
The application was processed within the 90 day statutory requirement under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Document 1 Location Map
Document 2 Streetscape
Document 3 Heritage Survey and Evaluation Form
Document 4 Statement of Cultural Heritage Value
Document 5 Site Plan
Document 6 Cultural Heritage Impact Statement including Structural Assessment
Document 7 Updated Structural Assessment, CJEL (June 2016)
Document 8 Building Condition Report, JCAL
Document 9 Comments from the Centretown Citizens Association
City Clerk and Solicitor Department, Legislative Services, to notify the property owner and the Ontario Heritage Trust (10 Adelaide Street East, 3rd Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M5C 1J3) of Council’s decision.
Document 2 – Streetscape
Document 3 – Heritage Survey and Evaluation Form
Centretown has always been a predominantly residential area, functionally linked to Parliament Hill and the structures of government. Over the past century, it has housed many individuals important to Canada’s development as a nation.
The built fabric of this area is overwhelmingly residential. It is dominated by dwellings from the 1890-1914 period, built to accommodate an expanding civil service within walking distance of Parliament Hill and government offices. There is a wide variety of housing types from this period, mixed in scale and level of sophistication. It had an early suburban quality, laid out and built up by speculative developers with repetitive groupings.
There is a sprinkling of pre-1890 buildings on the north and south perimeters, which predate any major development. There are also apartment buildings constructed and redeveloped during the 1914-1918 period in response to the need to house additional parliamentary, military, civil service and support personnel. In the recent 1960-1990 period, the predominantly low-scale environment has been punctuated by high-rise residential development.
Over the past century, this area has functioned as soft support for the administrative and commercial activity linked to Parliament Hill. In addition to residences, it has accommodated club facilities, organizational headquarters, institutions, professional offices and transportation services, all associated with Ottawa’s role as national capital. Conversely, many of the facilities that complement Centretown’s existence as a residential community have traditionally been situated in the blocks between Laurier and Wellington, closer to Parliament Hill.
Centretown has one major commercial artery, Bank Street. This street predates the community of Centretown both as a commercial route and as the major transportation corridor between Parliament Hill and outlying areas to the south. Bank Street has always serviced the entire area, with secondary commercial corridors along Elgin, Somerset Streets and Gladstone Avenue in select locations and time periods. The Bank Street commercial corridor broadens onto associated side streets in periods of intense pressure, then narrows back to the street itself with commercial activity is in decline.
Centretown itself has always been an access route to Parliament Hill. There is a longstanding pattern of north/south movement through the area by outsiders. Over the years, this pattern has been supported by livery locations, streetcar routes and automobile traffic corridors. Long distance travellers have traditionally arrived on the transportation corridor that marks the south boundary of the area- originally the Canadian Atlantic Railway and later its replacement, the Queensway. Travel within Centretown occurs east/west radiating from Bank Street.
As the federal government’s residential quarter, planning initiatives in Centretown have been influenced by both federal and municipal authorities. Federal intervention in this area has established some of its unusual qualities such as the formal emphasis on the Metcalfe Street axis, early enhancement of its residential quality, and a number of its parks and services. The streetscapes have traditionally been enhanced by extensive public tree planting and other hard and soft landscape features, many of which have been in decline since the period of extensive tree removal in the 1930s and 40s. However, the scale and texture of the heritage streetscape are still discernible.
This area is unique both as an early residential suburb and as the temporary and permanent home of many of those who have governed and shaped the nation.
Document 5 – Site Plan
Document 9 – Centretown Community Citizens Association- Comments
The Centretown Community Citizens Association (CCCA) Board approved the following motion opposing the demolition permit and heritage permit for 234 O'Connor Stree:
Whereas the CCCA opposes demolition of heritage buildings, including as a result of neglect, and
Whereas the CCCA opposes demolition of residential buildings without plans for an adequate replacement, including as a result of neglect, and
Whereas the City of Ottawa has received an application to demolish 234 O'Connor Street and replace it with a temporary landscaped space until such time that the owner deems it feasible to redevelop, and
Whereas the state of 234 O'Connor has been allowed to deteriorate to the point where the cost of required repairs would be prohibitive, according to a report by Commonwealth Resource Management commissioned by the owner, and
Whereas the City of Ottawa has subsequently commissioned a report from JCAL which indicates that structural repairs can be achieved for significantly less work and expense than indicated in the Commonwealth report, and
Whereas the balance of costs, i.e. to outfit the interior of the building, are costs which would have been readily apparent to the owner upon purchasing the property, and
Therefore be it resolved that the CCCA opposes the demolition of the heritage residential structure at 234 O'Connor Street, and
Be it further resolved that the CCCA commend the City of Ottawa for using independent experts to inform its decision on this matter, and
Be it further resolved that this position replaces any previous position of the CCCA on the present Heritage and Demolition Control applications for 234 O'Connor, and
Be it further resolved that the CCCA enter into discussions with the City about what steps can be taken to prevent other vacant buildings from falling to a state of neglect requiring demolition.