Bagot Street heritage home faces possible demolition

By Robert Washburn

[singlepic id=7 w=320 h=240 float=right]A historic house on Bagot Street could face the wrecker’s ball, if it is deemed structurally unsound after a fire last spring gutted the building, the town’s heritage committee decided Wednesday night.
The town’s heritage planner, Stephen Ashton, said the Ontario Vernacular Cottage, at 139 Bagot Street, built in 1875, was seriously damaged inside the building. The cost to repair is estimated to be approximately $197,000, according to a report brought before the committee. However, the situation is more complex because the report states the building did not have sufficient insurance to cover the cost of repair.
There is no town bylaws demanding heritage property owners purchase sufficient insurance to repair historic buildings, Ashton said. Often older buildings outside the Greater Toronto Area are priced significantly less than the replacement value. This means a person who purchases a historic building often gets greater value than the purchase price, he explained. Hence, the insured value does not match the replacement costs.

Also, some historic homeowners purchased the house many years ago and fail to keep the insurance policy current with market values.

“This is a big problem in rural areas,” he said.

Another issue is the lack of any legislation that requires historic homeowners to replace the building with a replicate. If the building is demolished, then any style of building could go on the property. Bagot Street is part of the Downtown Heritage District, a designation meant to protect older, historic buildings.

The town must deal with the demolition application within 90 days, which would be July 19, 2011.

The committee has recommended the town get an engineering report paid for by the property owner. If the building is unsound, then the permit should be issued. However, the committee recommended, if the building can be repaired, the permit should not be issued and it should be fixed.