City unable to work with developer: votes to refuse a demolition permit for Brant Street property

By Pepper Parr

May 2nd, 2023



City council has a policy of saving as much of the city’s heritage as possible. Some developers work with the city – others fight them every foot of the way.

A rendering of the 31 storey tower the developer want to build.

The Camero development at 795 Brant (at the intersection of Brant and Prospect) is one of the examples where the developer has dug in their heels and seems prepared to spend whatever it takes to get their way – which is to demolish the two storey house on the property and build a 31 story building on the site with 356 residential units.

The house the developer want to demolish as it stands today. The city wants to see the facade at least kept and included in the final plans.

Constructed in 1854, the house, according to a Staff report has significant heritage value.

On Sept. 21, 2022 the owner filed an application for an Official Plan Amendment and a Zoning By-law; The proposed new building did not incorporate the existing heritage structure. The application was deemed complete on Sept. 23, 2023.
On Dec. 13, 2022, City Council stated its intention to designate the property, and on Jan. 24, 2023 passed heritage designation bylaw No. 03-2023.

City Council did not decide on the Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw Amendment Applications within 120 days after they were deemed complete as required by the Planning Act, and on Jan. 27, 2023 the owner appealed Council’s non-decision to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT).

On Feb. 28, 2023, the property owner appealed the heritage designation to the OLT.

On Mar. 8, 2023, the owner submitted a heritage permit to facilitate the demolition of the heritage designated building.

On Apr. 12, 2023, the Heritage Burlington Advisory Committee (HBAC) reviewed the application and recommended that City Council decline the application.

Provincial Policy Statement, 2020 is very clear: Significant built heritage resources and significant cultural heritage landscapes shall be conserved.

The heritage value of 795 Brant St. has been established in two separate consultant reports. It meets six out of nine criteria for heritage designation under Ontario Regulation 9/06, whereas only two are required. The building is an early example of a brick-built vernacular Georgian house with a symmetrical three-bay façade. It was constructed by James Cushie Bent and Jabez Bent between 1854 and 1855 using brick manufactured on the site

It is historically significant in the following ways, among others:

The property is a physical reminder of the market gardening industry in Burlington; the agricultural output of the 53-acre property was substantial;

The building was prominently featured in the 1973 Centennial documentary “The Eyes of Memory and is one of only three heritage properties (1134 Plains Road East, 2021 Blairholm Avenue, 736 King Road) currently within the City of Burlington that were nineteenth century fruit farms of early settlers that produced goods for the market garden industry. It is the last visibly historic building on this section of Brant St.

A 1902 photograph of the house when the property was a large 53 acre garden market that had a substantial output.

Heritage Impact Statement Conservation Options
Consultants hired by the city had proposed to the owner that the new development retain the original 1854 house facing Brant St., provided the brick could be conserved; the developer claims the brick is beyond repair – Staff report that they do not see any evidence to support the claim.

The Ontario Heritage Act requires that the City approve or decline a heritage permit application no more than 90-days after a heritage permit submission is deemed “complete”. If a decision is not made in this time frame, Council is deemed to have “consented” to the application.

Staff sent the applicant a notice of completeness on Mar. 23, 2023 confirming that the application was complete on Mar. 8, 2023, which is considered “Day 1” of the required 90-day period. Day 90 will be June 6, 2023.

Once a decision is made, the owner has the option to appeal the decision to the OLT within 30 days.

Options Considered
Option 1- Decline the Application (Recommended)
Staff are recommending that Council decline the application, consistent with the PPS, 2020 and the Burlington Official Plan, which require that significant built heritage resources be conserved and their heritage attributes protected.

Option 2- Approve the Application (Not recommended)
Approving the demolition of a designated heritage building, which multiple heritage professionals have confirmed is worthy of protection, is not consistent with provincial and municipal policy and is not recommended.

The Heritage Burlington Advisory Committee recommends that City Council refuse the application for a heritage permit to demolish the two-storey Georgian- style brick house at 795 Brant St.

John Reilly, the Staff member with the best understanding of the file and is understood to be one of the team talking to the developer set out for Council where things stood and why he brought forward the recommendation to not approve a recommendation to demolish the heritage designated property

The file has an extensive history.  The city did not act on the OP amendment or the Zoning Bylaw Amendment which were then appealed to the OLT for a non decision.  The applicant then submitted a heritage alteration permit requesting permission to demolish the building which is the application before Council today.

Built between 1854 and 1855. Staff believe the property has historical value as a local landmark and would like to see some part of the structure built into the tower they want to build.
Reilly explained that the team on the project has done their best to convince the developer to work with the city to incorporate changes.

Nothing so far.

There is a lot of development planned in the area.

Reilly explained: “Situated on the property in a way that makes it relatively easy to conserve, the applicant objects to the designation and is planning to demolish the building because there is some damaged masonry on facades of the building. Staff have considered these objections. the areas of damaged brick are fairly minor. We’re not looking at 100% or anywhere close to that 100% of brick being damaged or stalled or cracked.

“We’re looking at specific areas of each facade that where there are some bricks in need of replacement or repair many of the alterations or you know evidence of age that the applicant is citing are repairable these are the alterations many of them are reversible windows are easily replaced. For example, paint can be removed from brick or a building can be repainted in a more sympathetic colour or historically appropriate colour. Staffs view, is that this building is not beyond repair . The building occupies less than 3% of the site and we haven’t been presented with any new evidence in the form of an engineer report that would tell us that the building is about to fall down or is past the point of saving.”

Staff are recommending that council refuse this heritage permit application to demolish the building.

The development is in ward 2 however the Mayor was the only person who asked questions.

“Your report mentions that refusing the demolition will create another appeal opportunity and can you just specify what that is?

Reilly: “There would be an opportunity for the applicant to appeal to the Ontario land tribunal.

He imagined that all the appeals would be merged into one hearing, assuming the developer actually appealed the decision council was about to make when the report gets to Council later in the month.

Core Development has kept the Carriage Gate restaurant and included it in their development situated between Lakeshore Road and Old Lakeshore Road.

“Our goal is for them to incorporate this into a development” which, we have seen take place at other development; the Beausoleil at Pearl and Lakeshore and the Core development on old Lakeshore Road that has included the Carriage House restaurant into their development.

Reilly – there are many conservation options and we’ve signalled flexibility throughout every meeting that we’ve had with the applicant.

The Mayor moves the motion and comments that “your rationale is entirely defensible”, adding “We have seen how well development can be incorporated into heritage redevelopment and the best example currently which is really exciting to see in real time is the Pearl and Lake Shore redevelopment adding that she has “never believed that it’s either preserve heritage or have redevelopment.”

“I believe there’s a win win here. And staff have been very clear about encouraging the applicant to go for the win win. “I continue to encourage them to incorporate this into a redevelopment and redo their plans. So fingers crossed, but I certainly support what we have here.”

With no further comments the vote was called to refuse the heritage permit application for demolition of 795 Brant street

The hands were raised – it passed and that was it for the day.

It was a short agenda that ran for less than an hour.

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1 comment to City unable to work with developer: votes to refuse a demolition permit for Brant Street property

  • Lynn Crosby

    Boggles my mind that we’re now claiming the Pearl and Lakeshore development where they chopped off the bulk of the gorgeous heritage home to stick another boring tower onto it, which looks ridiculous and sad, where the property was left to turn into an eyesore in disrepair for what seems like years, is an example of good protection of heritage properties.

    Cities that truly value heritage properties actually protect them – the whole of them, and keep them in use – they don’t just keep the front wall and stick it on a glass tower.

    My how the narrative has completely changed from pre-2018 election.