Posted by: HamptonIona | March 23, 2010

Planning Committee Recommends that Entire Convent Property Receives Historic Designation

On March 23, the City’s Planning and Economic Development committee heard the recommendation for heritage designation of the Soeur de la Visitation Convent site. Staff had recommended historic designation for the convent and the front lawn towards Richmond Road. The Heritage Advisory Committee reviewed the staff report last week and had recommended that the entire site get historic designation. The Committee decided to hear the application in spite of the legal application that Ashcroft had filed yesterday to squash the heritage designation for the land going forward at this time on the basis that no argument had been made to include the land. Planning Committee did advise, however, that while they would hear the application today, the heritage application would not go forward to full Council for another 2 weeks instead of March 24.

The meeting started with City staff recommending that the building and front lawn (towards Richmond Road) receive historic designation. Two lawyers appeared on behalf of Ashcroft. The first discussed the legal challenge. The second lawyer, spoke out against historic designation for any of the land but indicated that Ashcroft had no trouble with historic designation for the building. Two people spoke from the city’s Heritage Advisory Board in favour of the entire site having historic designation. Speaking from the public in favour of the entire site having historic designation were Gary Ludington, Bill Mitchell, Sarah Heath, David Jeans and Lorne Cutler. Christine Leadman, while not a member of the Planning Committee attended, sat at the planning committee table and spoke in favour of the whole site receiving designation and spoke at length about the process and how companies first bidding on the site last September had received sufficient notice from the City that the site would have to be treated in accordance with its historic context and the secondary plan.

Diane Holmes introduced a motion that the heritage designation be modified to cover the full site (the Heritage Committee recommendation). It carried by a vote of 5 (Diane Holmes, Clive Doucet, Peggy Feltmate, Bob Monette & Michel Bellemaire) to 2 (Peter Hume and Shad Qadri). This means that Committee has recommended that the convent and entire site have historic designation, not just the building and the front lawn. This should go forward to full Council in early April.

Historic designation of the property does not preclude development on the site (either front or back). It means, however, that the development must be sensitive to the site and convent and that important site lines should be preserved. Buildings should be placed in a manner that enhances the historic nature of the site and the convent.

The Ottawa Citizen has an article on the decision here.

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