rock bottom? don’t bet on it

We now know the economic foundation of the Aurora Historical Society has collapsed and huge gobs of $ continue to fall through the cracks.

But what about the actual foundation of Hillary House, the National Historic site that they own and operate?

A Key Activity laid out on page 4 of the Society’s Strategic Plan (

http://space4art.biz/hhahs/images/stories/documents/AHSstratplan.pdf ) is:

Insure basic foundation of building is sound

Unlike the other activities the timetable for this item is simply “ongoing”.

Curious, as I do not recall this item being addressed at all in the past 4 years, anywhere.

Where is a professional engineering report that would provides such insurance?

It’s not as if building foundations aren’t an issue of note here in town.

Remember when that devastating earthquake hit and engineers with “significant seismic experience” concluded that it structurally incapacitated Wells Street School:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/stupidity-is-an-elemental-force-for-which-no-earthquake-is-a-match/

The school never recovered, and given it’s condition there was no other possible use for that building then to be developed into condos.

Only a block or so away The Aurora Public Library withstood the quake, which is odd considering concerns about its foundations were voiced by former Aurora Councillor Norm Weller on page 6 of the November 30th 2004 edition of the Auroran: http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?wpfb_dl=115

10 years have passed, surely the town has looked into this.

Especially considering that the one building that stands between the library and Wells Street School had significant reworking of its foundation as featured on the front page of the December 10th 2002 edition of the Auroran: http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?wpfb_dl=47

We learn that the reshoring of Church Street School’s foundation was done in the “nick of time” and that the mortar between the stones in its foundation washed away.

Also mentioned is drainage issues that plagued the site.

Considering the location of Hillary House being adjacent to a flood plain as noted both in Mr Jon Hack’s February 4th delegation to council ( see the red line on page 7 here: http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/app/wa/mediaEntry?mediaEntryId=62474 ) as well as on page 16 of the Hillary-MacinTyred-Park Cost Benefit Study including this statement:

Further site surveys by LSRCA for the subject property would need to be completed for exact flood plain line mapping of the Hillary House and Horton Place properties.

Why are there so many unkowns about a National Historic Site?

And why has the Aurora Historical Society not acted on their “key activity”?

Why are we hearing that proposals to off-load the National Historical site to the Ontario Heritage Trust or the Town of Aurora do not comprehensively capture the state of this asset?

Especially with respect to something so integral as the site’s foundation.

RETROactive is the official blog of Alberta’s Historic Places Stewardship Section which manages Alberta’s programs for the protection and conservation of historic places.  A year ago they explored the challenge of fixing foundation flaws in this post here: http://albertashistoricplaces.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/were-cracked/

It is noted that ultimately, foundations perform a crucial function for our buildings. Whatever problems occur they will begin to transfer to the rest of the structure if they are not addressed.

Which of course is why the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada contains a number of sections related to the conservation and repair of foundations.

The post even goes so far as to point out relevant sections including general recommendations of “Structural Systems” (4.3.8) under “Guidelines for Buildings” and for material specific information read about “Masonry” (4.5.3) and “Concrete” (4.5.4) under “Guidelines for Materials.”

Surely the owners and operators of Aurora’s only National Historic Site can show that they are in compliance with these and and many other sections of the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.

It is their responsibility.

Inability to do would demonstrate a bad footing, and bad faith.

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