Finders Reapers

The Aurora Architectural Salvage Program was the subject of Brock Weir’s piece in the January 9th 2014 Auroran on pages 9 and 11.

This is a subject I have been paying close attention to over the past 3 years, making 3 delegations to the town’s Heritage Advisory committee a year a part and writing about it in several entries on this blog.

It appears that finally town staff is doing what was established by council almost a decade ago.

In Brock’s article he states that the collection has been “fully cataloged”.
Clr. Abel who sits on the committee referred to staff’s report in a council meeting as a “comprehensive” inventory.

I don’t agree with either assessment and here’s why.

An inventory list is found as Attachment 1 contained in report HAC13-028 available in the November 11th 2013 HAC agenda here: http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/app/wa/mediaEntry?mediaEntryId=62089

It is a single page in length. A total of 311 items is broken down in quantities but none of the other details reflected in the report are reflected.

This list also identifies items that overlap with the recently acquired Aurora Collection as verified by the Aurora Historical Society in Attachment #2 of that same report. The CAM groups inventory confirms that items have been accessioned into the Aurora collection that may be located among the Architectural Salvage program. It then ads a note that John MacInTyred may have more information on why/when these materials came to be stored there.

WTF?

Why would items accessioned into the Aurora collection lie among the town’s salvage material when there are climate controlled storage facilities built and paid for at the Church Street School?

And why would staff need to seek out “more information” from Mr. Macintyred if they have been responsible for the program for the past 9 years?

Perhaps because until both the CAM inventory of the Collection, and the town’s inventory of the salvage material in September of 2013 there was no inventory of any of the materials gathered in the old library building.

Now there’s a WTF for you.

It appears that items have been salvaged since 1968, yet no one that was responsible for salvaging these items, i.e. the Aurora Historical Society, thought it necessary to conduct an inventory for the past 45 years.

Want another WTF? When the salvage program was founded in 2005 and the program was outlined by the Heritage Planning Manager of the time complete with protocols and processes and a sample inventory sheet an inventory of items was never conducted.

Given the bulk of items were salvaged prior to 2005, when they were officially received into the program why were they not subject to cataloging?

Who bothers to go through all the work of drafting a program complete with a sample inventory sheet, found on page 8 of the 2005 program outline, and then doesn’t execute said inventory?

This isn’t acceptable stewardship by any stretch of the imagination.

If one of The Director of Planning’s personal objectives was to get the program in order as stated in the Auroran then why has it taken him 5 years? 3 of which included prompting from myself to the committee through seperate delegations?

It wasn’t until the December 9th 2013 report HAC13-034 ( http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/app/wa/mediaEntry?mediaEntryId=62214 ) that the full details of the inventory were provided via attachment #4 found on pg 36.

With the artifacts from the Aurora Collection now separated from the salvage list only 82 entries remain, totaling just over 130 items.

Concerned with the findings of this inventory I met with Clrs Abel and Gaertner along with the Director of Planning and the Heritage Planning Manager on December 17th 2013 to discuss.

What was confirmed for me at this meetings was the following:

A) No inventory was ever conducted in the 45 year period of collection prior to September of 2013.

B) Little to no items were added to the inventory from the demolition of the past 10 homes. Staff is looking to confirm this for council.

C.) No items have from the program have ever been re-used.

These findings contradict the goals outlined in the 2005 document, meaning the program has been defunct since its inception.

WTF?

That’s the complete opposite of an accomplishment.

Scrutinizing the inventory list from HAC13-034 with staff I pointed out some additional concerns, which I will share here:

1.) 79 of entries ( 96% of the program) have no known list of extraction.

I fail to understand how items deemed of heritage importance could have been collected without documenting their original location. Staff didn’t seem to think this was problematic, which is also disconcerting.

2.) Only 2 of 46 entries ( 4%) have known styles.

So the majority of items salvaged are architecturally important, yet their style cannot be identified?

3.) Entries #048 and #055 are not Architectural items, but furnishings and cupboards.

With no documentation it is hard to understand their existence in such program.

I also do not understand the need for a “group” column altogether if all items in the Architectural Salvage Program are to be Architectural in nature.

When I pointed this out staff seemed to be also stumped as to their existence, yet they were responsible for compiling the inventory.

4.) Entry #081 lists 50 beams. The number 50 is approximate and there was some confusion as to the total # of beams with staff saying the figure is “approximate”.

Extraction lists “Unknown” yet under notes it list the location. I suspect that these beams may have been from the barn listed on pg 3 of November 27th edition of the Auroran.

If these timbers are so significant that they are being stored at another location, perhaps at a cost, how is it that a definitive total number was not documented?

5.) Item #082 identifies windows yet there are no dimensions listed.

Given that some of these materials predated the last 2 heritage managers I reached out to Michael Seaman the manager that established the program back in 2005.

He had no answers to any of these questions me, he simply stated that all documentation was handed over to the current planning manager.

Mr. Seman recognized items #081 and #082 yet when I inquired if inventory sheets were filled in for these or any items received by the program he did not respond.

WTF?

Without a previous inventory the integrity and condition of items in the salvage program cannot be measured.

I have referred to this whole effort to date as a salvage program, and with good reason.

Look at where we are now.

45 Years of Aurora’s Architectural salvage has been reduced down to a measly 130 items.

The majority of which are in poor condition, and their location and style is unknown.

Some of them are not even architectural items at all.

Here are some photos I took of the materials as they were haphazardly stored last year:

 

Ms. Stuart’s quote on page 11 of the same Auroran piece that states “at one time 95 percent of the catalog had been properly maintained” offers no peace of mind.

Instead it begs the question what happened after that “one time”?

And exactly what constitutes “properly maintained”?

Certainly not what has transpired above.

Who salvages doors, pictured above and goes through the process of striping them of all the ornate and valuable hardware, but can’t be bothered to perhaps write down why they are saved, and from where?

Given that the Cultural Asset Management Group report of February 12th 2013 lists that 961 items from the 16,744 item Aurora collection are unaccounted for, I don’t place much credence on what past or present members of the Aurora Historical Society have to say about proper maintenance of artifacts.

I’m disappointed to learn that the Architectural Salvage Program may have been subject to the very same level of gross mismanagement as the Aurora Collection and from some of the same players.

Like the Aurora Collection, the Town of Aurora needs to once and for all restore order to the anarchy that has been plaguing the efforts of the Architectural Salvage Program to date.

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