Canadá, Ottawa Citizen, Inglês


The Ontario Land Tribunal found that Highland Park had a definable character with mature trees, generous setbacks and many other older homes.

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An Ottawa man who wants to redevelop a property in Highland Park has been told he can’t demolish the century-old home because it helps to “define the character of the area” and its sense of place.

The Ontario Land Tribunal said there was no evidence the two-and-a-half-storey brick home at 501 Cole Ave. held unique architectural value.

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But the home, in one of Ottawa’s oldest suburbs, was used as a church manse, where it served as hub of community events, including strawberry socials. The tribunal said the property had “contextual value” that must be protected.

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“It is an early 20th century home set in this early suburb, together with many other such residential homes,” the tribunal said in a recent decision. “Thus, it clearly maintains and supports the character of the area.

“Furthermore … it may well have helped establish or define the character of the area. It is clearly a part of the sense of this place.”

Ottawa’s Tony Cassone bought the property in May 2022 with the intention of demolishing the home and building two modern homes in its place.

The property was then on the city’s heritage register, and the Westboro Community Association had requested that it be given full designation.

The City of Ottawa’s heritage staff subsequently prepared a report on the property and recommended against its heritage designation. In the June 2022 report, staff said the Cole Avenue property “demonstrates limited historical or architectural value.”

Staff noted that the adjacent property at 420 Kenwood Ave., Cobble Cottage, had already been designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.

But the city’s built heritage subcommittee overruled staff’s recommendation and voted to designate the Cole Avenue property — a move that was later endorsed by council.

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Cassone appealed that decision to the Ontario Land Tribunal, where his lawyer, Jacob Polowin, argued that the property was being designated under the heritage act only to prevent redevelopment and intensification.

Leslie Collins, a heritage planner with the City of Ottawa, testified that in her view the property did not have enough significance to qualify for designation.

The tribunal heard the property was once part of a large property subdivided and sold by John Cole, the owner of the Highland Park Dairy Farm. The original owner of the Cole Avenue home was William Pert, a bank middle manager who did not finish high school and failed the civil service entrance exam.

The home was acquired in 1943 by the Highland Baptist Church and for the next two decades it was the site of an annual strawberry social.

In defending the heritage designation, the city called Mark Thompson Brandt, a conservation architect, who testified that demolition of the home would have a “negative impact” on Cobble Cottage. Brandt also discussed “at length the fact that the building was the host of an annual strawberry social which are apparently still talked about.”

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In its recent decision, the Ontario Land Tribunal conceded that the evidence presented in support of a designation of the Cole Avenue property “was less than fulsome.”

The tribunal rejected the property’s designation based on the home’s value as an example of Edwardian Classicism and rejected its designation based on its association with important events or people.

The tribunal said there was not enough evidence to establish the “famous” strawberry socials were significant events in Highland Park.

But the tribunal found that Highland Park had a definable character with mature trees, generous setbacks and many other older homes. The Cole Avenue property, the tribunal concluded, maintained and supported the area’s distinct character and should be designated as a heritage property under that criterion.

The decision means Cassone will not be able to tear down the home.

He could not be reached for comment.

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Ottawa Citizen


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