Is there Hope for Heritage on Brant Street ?

By Pepper Parr

June 14th, 2022



The issue was – should the property at 795 Brant Street be placed on the Municipal Register of Cultural Heritage Resources.

The owners of the property certainly don’t want that to happen – they are at the front end of a development application that hasn’t gained all that much support from anyone.

The proposed structure will have the biggest podium the city has yet seen – plus the tower.

They would prefer to demolish the property and proceed with the building of a 30 story tower on a 7 story podium at the intersection of Brant and Prospect.

The proponent of the development appears to want to develop every square foot of the site and include some townhouses at the rear of the property

The owners of the property argue that there really isn’t anything historically significant about the property other than that it is the last farming property structure on Brant Street left and that doesn’t seem to matter to them.

As the debate took place things got a little sticky and it looked as if they were going to have to get an opinion from the city solicitor.

A motion to send the issue to Council on June21st failed so they were left with dealing with it.  The Mayor did not attend the Standing Committee which resulted in a tie vote  – meaning the motion failed.

Listing a property on the “register” doesn’t mean all that much – but an additional step in the saving of culturally significant properties is to designate it as such – that step allows the city to prevent demolition for a period of 60 days.

The developer held a community meeting several months ago setting out what they had in mind.  It wasn’t a pretty picture.

There have been consultations with the Planning department but a development application has yet to be submitted.

Heritage Burlington, a city Advisory committee felt strongly enough about this property that they were ready to put some of their funds into having a new heritage evaluation done.

The developer has big big plans for the property

For the developer, who wasn’t really up to speed on what was happening to his development this was becoming a bit of a headache.

Council learned that a move to designate a property as significant from a heritage perspective is something that could be appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

There were reports in 2012 that indicated the city wasn’t all that interested in putting the property on the Register basically because the owner of the property didn’t want that and Council went along with the wishes of the property owner.

The property has been in different hands over the past five years – at one point former candidate for mayor Peter Rusin was part of the team guiding the development potential of the property.

The property is in ward 2 – Lisa Kearns weighed in with the view that the Planning Act does protect the rights of property owners and that the Heritage Act protect heritage, adding that this Council committed itself to protecting what is left f the city’s heritage.

The house as it stands today.

There is a solution in all this – it was part of the direction staff was given which was to have the Director of Community Planning meet with the developer to find out if there was a way to save at least the façade and build that into the ground level of the building.

The Staff report was to:

Direct the Director of Community Planning to add 795 Brant Street to the Municipal Heritage Register and provide notice to the owner of the property within 30 days, pursuant to section 27(5) of the Ontario Heritage Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.18; and

Authorize the City Clerk to take necessary action if there are any objections in accordance with Section 27(7) of the Ontario Heritage Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter 0.18; and

Direct the Director of Community Planning to contact the property owner to discuss the conservation of the original portions of the 2-storey masonry building on the property as part of a future development; and

Direct the Director of Community Planning Retain a qualified heritage consultant to complete a third-party heritage evaluation and a statement of significance of 795 Brant Street.

We will see what comes out of this at the Council meeting on the 21st– the developer isn’t happy with what might happen, there probably are not enough in the way of Council members who will spend some of their political capital on saving a bit of heritage.

The oldest picture of the house with its picket fence and significant architectural features. It will be interesting to see how Council votes – is this a save the history council or protect property rights council. The one to watch is Sharman.

The saving grace is that the proposed development is so egregious, so over the top in terms of what they want to exploit that the tide may turn.

We will see what gets decided on the 22st when Council makes a decision.à

A Delegation from Michele Camacho, Chair, Heritage Burlington Advisory Committee, regarding eligibility of 795 Brant Street for inclusion on the Municipal Register of Cultural Heritage Resources was pretty clear – they saw significant merit in keeping something from the structure that was once a part of a 75 acre farm that was operational for more than 50 years.



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6 comments to Is there Hope for Heritage on Brant Street ?

  • Alfred

    Roland Tanner.

    You said:

    “Councilors also have no requirement, to give the remotest damn about financial implications for land speculators who buy land containing historic buildings on the assumption they can get them demolished.” Really!

    You see I was under perhaps the mistaken impression that councils job was to create economic well being and economic prosperity for it’s citizens in the City of Burlington and the Province of Ontario.

    The construction of this new building would bring in approx: 1 million dollars a year in property tax revenue. Since property taxes always go up. This could total $100-150 million over the next 50 years or more to the City. The HST. The Provincial and Federal Govt. would collect over $10 million dollars from the sale of these units.(Which could be used for many things. Affordable housing.??)

    The construction of this building would cost approx. $120 million. That would be split amongst suppliers, trademen and women, lawyers, real estate agents and many others, to the benefit of many citizens of Burlington. Lot’s of well paying jobs.

    Oh yes! Not to mention the millions in income taxes these folks would be paying, Clearly another benefit.

    Not to mention, lovely places for people to live. Don’t forget some people buy these units to rent out. Thus creating much needed rental units at market rent.

    In closing maybe you can explain on how saving this old wooden, mould filled house with probably a leaky basement and rotting wood structure that will probably not last another 70 years, benefit the citizens of Burlington.

    Perhaps you could list your financial contributions to this City. To see how they stack up against those that this developer would bring to this City.

    As I said before. This Provincial Government will soon make Nimby’s and non complying councils Irrelevant.

  • Alfred


    Did you not vote in the last Provincial election?

    That was your chance to change the housing policies in Ontario. It appears that in Burlington and many other municipalities people have no problem with intensification and the direction we are heading. Since they are going to bring in even more stringent intensification mandates that council must obey.

    I would suggest your choices are as follows.

    1- Get used to it.
    2- Howl with the other Burlington Nimby’s at a Government that stopped listening. That is trying to make non complying Mayors and Nimby’s extinct.
    3- Move to another Municipality with less development potential.
    4- Wait until the next election and vote in, another Government that will do the exact same thing or worse.
    5- Become more relevant to the elected officials than the environmentalists, that have rained down all this living on top of one another. (Covid, monkey pox) and whatever mother nature has in store for us. In one of the largest countries in the world that would easily allow us to spread out a little more.

    Good luck

  • Alfred

    To Lisa Kerns.

    Very scary comment. That you would dismiss and not protect property owners property rights as an elected official. As an elected official I would think that would be one of your most important duties.

    “The Planning Act does not protect the rights of property owners” Is that what you said?? Did you really say that??

    I hope the property owners in your ward and those that voted for you are made fully aware of the fact that you feel you can do whatever you want with the biggest investments of their lives. Making in your distorted view, you the owner.

    • Roland Tanner

      According to the article, no that’s not what she said. My reading is that she said the Planning Act protects property owners rights, and the Heritage Act protects heritage. In certain (highly limited) circumstances, the requirement to protect heritage trumps the requirement to respect the rights of a property owner. Councillors have a responsibility to weigh the demands of both, just as they weigh numerous other legal limits on what property owners can reasonably do with their land.

      That’s because we believe that the interests of the whole are greater than the interests of an individual, where the interests of the individual act to the detriment of the interests of the whole.

      That’s why you can’t open a meth lab in your basement, or a gas station in your front yard, and why somebody who buys a heritage property can legitimately be told (in certain circumstances) they can’t build something that hurts something considered of historic or architectural importance.

      Councillors also have no requirement to give the remotest damn about financial implications for land speculators who buy land containing historic buildings on the assumption they can get them demolished.

      Nevertheless, you needn’t worry about this property. What’s being discussed is just how much the owner is going to be delayed and inconvenienced in the process of getting exactly what they want, and what small things the city can extract as concessions. The owner will get their way, and the old building will go. Heritage protections were never strong, and just got a lot weaker a few months ago.

      Personally, as someone once interested in history and historic architecture, I’d say that both the practice of asking developers to keep a facade and the practice of paying to move properties is largely pointless. A facade of an old farmhouse glued to the front of a high-rise is not heritage any more than a photograph is. And a house that’s been moved from one location to another loses a large amount of important historic context. Better than nothing? Maybe. But often not by much. But in Ontario that’s a best case scenario for what passes for ‘heritage protection’.

      We should just be grateful some members of the Burlington Heritage Advisory Committee aren’t lining up with the jack-hammers to knock the place down. There have been times in the past when they might have done.

  • Joan Gallagher Bell

    The question could be do we finish ou r cement canyon from beautiful Lake to QEW? It i almost finished. Sorry cement reaching sky is not a selling point for a friendly homey Burlington that I moved to over sixty years ago.

  • Penny Hersh

    The property in question has little or no heritage value ( just look at the two photos of this property in the article). For those of us watching this committee meeting it seemed like a last ditch effort to use this property as a reason to create issues for the developer of the property.

    It will be interesting to see what eventually happens to the “heritage” house on Pearl Street that has to be incorporated in the approved Carriage Gate development on Lakeshore/Pearl. This small house that most recently housed the Pearl Street Bistro has remained empty for years and has been allowed to deteriorate. It will probably end up as a pile of rubble by the time development starts.

    Spending money for a “qualified heritage consultant to complete a third-party heritage evaluation” of this property seems a waste of taxpayer dollars especially since there were reports in 2012 that indicated neither the owner of the property or the city wanted to put this property on the heritage registry list.