Cheque yourself before you Petch yourself

Given the ridiculous saga to save a rotting feces filled crap-board shack from outside the boarders of our town Aurora has become all too acquainted with the name Petch.  Several posts on that house can be found here: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/?s=petch+house

The exercise that span multiple terms of councils and ended up costing well over $100,000 to arrive at an inside out house with no purpose serves as a cautionary tale for future councils as how not to handle our heritage.

But there isn’t only one Petch House making news here in Aurora. Recently the Issac Petch Farm house was demolished to make way for another Smart Centre.

This should no doubt make former Aurora Clr. Al “used car salesman” Wilson happy given how offensive the sight of this historic home was to him as commented on here: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/shaping-auroras-heritage/

The demolition request was debated in the September 12th 2011 meeting of the Heritage Advisory Committee, you can read the staff report HAC11-015 of the home here: http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/app/wa/mediaEntry?mediaEntryId=59000

Minutes of that meeting are here: http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/app/wa/mediaEntry?mediaEntryId=59035

Not recorded in the minutes but if I recall correctly it was brought to the committee’s attention that the floor joists were purposely cut to prevent any action to preserve the house and fast track demolition. Certainly an easy way to side-step the intent of Heritage preservation bylaws brought forth by Clr. Humfreys.

This seems to be confirmed by interior shots of the home over on the Ontario Abandoned Places site here: http://www.ontarioabandonedplaces.com/upload/wiki.asp?entry=2498

The photo of The Petch Farm House at the top of this post is courtesy of accomplished Aurora photographer Anna Lozyk Romeo’s archives. Be sure to check out more of her work at: http://livinginaurora.ca

It continues to sadden me that more work has been done to document Aurora’s heritage by individuals, some not even from our town, than the town and it’s complacent and ineffective Heritage Advisory Committee.

So what exactly did the committee do?

During the meeting of May 14, 2012 ( http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/app/wa/mediaEntry?mediaEntryId=60122 ) it was suggested that bricks be salvaged and used to make some kind of token wall or seating area to feature an interpretive plaque. Which makes total sense because you know how much you want to sit down in the parking lot of a Smart Centre.

WTF?

It appears that some bricks have been saved on the site, their condition is very poor and I’m unconvinced that whatever will be done with these bricks will pay the farm house that once stood on the site the respect it deserved.

Fortunately the committee did one thing right, and that was to ask for a lump sum in exchange for demolition approval.

During the November 11th Heritage Advisory Committee report HAC13-027 was debated.
It outlined that the developers approved a one-time $50,000.00 donation for the Isaac Petch Farm House that would go into a yet to be created “heritage fund”.

At General Committee this week Clr. Gaertner inquired as to this fund, which has yet to be determined.

The Heritage Advisory committee has directed staff to report back regarding the purpose of contributions related to the heritage fund.

It is my hopes that oversight of this fund lies with council and not soley with the committee as the track record over the past 8 years has been atrocious.

As examples I cite the complacency and ineptitude of the Hartman House interpretive plaque that I had to bring before the committee twice before anything was done: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/the-hartman-house-plaqued-or-placated/

And the defunct Architectural Salvage program, which has made insignificant progress over 3 years and 3 delegations: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/s=salvage+program

Of course relying on council to determine how to handle a cash-in-lieu heritage fund will likely result in continued or even amplified efforts similar to the Petch crap-board house which has no foreseeable purpose.

Before council and committee gets all giddy about cashing a $50,000 cheque perhaps they should take some time to consider their current service levels in this area and how much it really costs to be innovative and sustainable with respect to the town’s heritage.

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