Developer taken to court over demolitions
Historic farm was being considered for heritage designation
Barns and sheds were removed legally according to landowner’s lawyer
A local developer is being taken to court for demolishing several buildings of debated historical value at the site of a proposed residential and offices development near Leslie Street and Elgin Mills Road.
Leslie Elgin Developments, Inc., the owner of the two properties on which the buildings stood, is being prosecuted by York Region under the Ontario Heritage Act for removing several buildings without the approval of the Town of Richmond Hill Council, heritage and planning staff confirmed. According to Heritage Richmond Hill (HRH), the buildings were being considered for receiving heritage designation. The barns and sheds shared farmland that housed two other, formally designated heritage buildings, which are intact.
Andrea Kulesh, president of the Richmond Hill Heritage Society, said she was meeting with members to discuss the situation.
“Every time one of these goes, it is just heartbreaking because they can’t be brought back,” she said.
In a statement to the town, Ira Kagan, a solicitor for the developer, explained that his client was exercising its rights according to the Ontario Building Code Act, which stipulates a person is exempt from the requirement to obtain a permit under section 8 of the Act for the demolition of a building located on a farm.
“It is just heartbreaking they can’t be brought back.”
The move came in response to an “aggressive” staff report in which “even structures which were unsafe and likely to collapse on their own soon, were proposed to be designated,” Kagan said.
Local Ward 1 councillor Greg Beros, who sits on HRH, said that though he takes heritage preservation seriously, he disagreed with the committee.
“The disconnect is that our current HRH committee is set on designating everything that comes before them,” he said. “My question is: at the time all of the heritage impact reports were done, why didn’t council at that time designate everything?”
A court date has been set for Dec. 14, 2012.