On Christmas eve the CBC ran a piece on The Metropolitan Toronto Emergency Preparedness Centre, better known as “The Aurora Bunker”.
If you missed it you can catch it here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/history-hidden-under-aurora-farmhouse-1.2883822
The report is interesting for a bunch of reasons, one being that the current owners who were shown the property back in the early ’90s by a real estate agent who had no idea about the historic attributes or significance of the house.
How does that happen?
The report goes on to outline that the property is on the town’s register of sites of cultural and historical significance, likely due to the owners request but is not a designated historic site.
The site garnered much interest when it was included on the town’s Doors Open event in 2009.
So much so that the owners declined to have the house included in the event for 5 years as they were overwhelmed with traffic.
In this March 2012 Globe & Mail piece we see the owners in front of the shaft leading to the underground room. Noted is the ‘pop out’ on the original farmhouse, which contains the staircase for interior access:
The full piece can be found here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-and-garden/architecture/a-charming-farmhouse—with-a-cold-war-bunker-in-the-basement/article552858/ in which the owner stated their were plans to include the home in the 2014 event.
But that never happened.
In its place questionable choices such as the always accessible Aurora “Public” Library and Cultural Centre rounded out the destinations.
Not surprisingly numbers from the 2014 Doors Open event show a fizzle from previous years. I commented on my observations from attending the one Working Group meeting for the event that was eluded to at a committee meeting: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/doors-open-2014-off-its-hinges/
Poor site selection, nonexistent marketing efforts and the Town of Aurora’s Heritage Planner vacating her position to go on stress leave caused a last minute scramble.
By way of comparison this tweet says that Grimsby featured a 30+ sites, music and classic cars, WWI reenactment, arts walk and a cocktail tour:
Aurora’s head was not in the game last year, and its efforts in years prior have been sub-par.
Lets hope that this year it bunkers down and gets to work on coordinating a truly worthwhile event that actually opens doors to locations that are otherwise restricted.
And in the absence of a Program Manager of Heritage Planning perhaps the town can look to tear down some silos and lean on the expertise of it’s Special Events team to make up for its shortcomings.