Is there a future for the oldest farmhouse in the downtown core? Could be if the city planners and the developer get creative.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 7, 2015


It’s pretty clear now that the house William Ghent lived in as a farmer is going to meet the nudge of a wrecking ball.

Studio - Ghent farm house - bigger view

The last genuine farm house in the downtown core – can any of it be salvaged?

The Development and Infrastructure Standing Committee decided not to go along with a staff report that advised the city not to issue a demolition permit.
The goose was cooked” when Jim Clemens said during his delegation that he would be very hard pressed to find a strong reason for keeping the structure.

Clemens Jim - Heritage

Heritage Advisory Chair Jim Clemens didn’t see enough in the Ghent – Brant property to designate it – without the designation the city has to issue a demolition permit if one is sought.

Clemens did say that he hoped a way could be found to save parts of the structure – perhaps the façade of the building and include that in whatever gets built on the lot at the corner of Ghent and Brant Street along with the property to the south of it.

Tony Millington, the private planner on the file said that the owners of the property had not yet decided what they were going to build but that they expected to come back and ask for zoning to build at least an eight storey structure.

The city’s planning department still harbours hopes that something can be saved – the structure is the very last farm house in the downtown core.

While Ghent was the owner of the property when it was divided into eight 5 acres parcels – that would qualify him as one of the city’s earliest developers – he really didn’t live in the house all that long.

The property will soon be in the hands of a developer – all they have to do is convince council to give them the zoning and density they want and that corner of the city will be like most of the other – plain, bland and uninspiring.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

There are two classical Renaissance style structures on Yonge Street in Toronto that were basically abandoned years ago.  Both were banks.

Bank front for Massey Tower

Abandoned bank on Yonge Street in Toronto found a new life – as the lobby to a high rise condominium. Imagine this as the front door to your home.

A developer came up with a way to use one of the abandoned banks as the entrance to a high rise condominium that would be built behind and above the old bank.

The pictures tell the story.

Massey Tower

The classical structure was saved – lending much more comfortable street scape and a lobby that is to die for.

Does Burlington have a developer with some imagination and the ability to take a risk and include the farmhouse in whatever they decide to build – and get a little extra density for their efforts?

That farmhouse could be changed into a general store, a drug store, even a coffee shop that would enhanced the property and keep some of the city’s heritage.

It can be done.

Woodbine - the beauties

A stretch of anything but contemporary looking homes in the Beach of eastern Toronto

There is a stretch of Toronto along the lakeshore in the east end where the road bends and becomes Woodbine Avenue. Years ago a racetrack was on that property.

A developer bought the land and developed a nice sub-division – not unlike our Alton Village. They were nice enough.

Woodbine beauties - Brick and best colour BEST

Buyers had a choice between plain bland brick and colourful semi-detached homes – the colourful homes sold for a premium.

The developer was getting on in years and decided he wanted to do something different so he built a stretch of the development that were significantly different than the rest – they were brightly painted and just different – and they ended up selling at a premium price.

The public will buy different – if the developers don’t come forward with different ideas – there are people in the planning department that can help them,

Let’s see what the end resolution is with the property at Ghent and Brant.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 comment to Is there a future for the oldest farmhouse in the downtown core? Could be if the city planners and the developer get creative.

  • Tom Muir

    I would be interested in what the Downtown workshop tables that considered this location (I think this happened) had to say about this. Can anyone help here or provide direction?

    As well, what was the public message about this kind of choice conundrum in the Downtown generally?

    What shape is all the information gathered at the workshops in terms of accessibility? Anyone know?