The Heritage Advisory Committee convened on Wednesday April 4th with much of the meeting occupied by a delegation and discussion of the Grimsby Beach cottage at 33 Victoria Terrace.  There was a good handful of local residents in the Council Chambers showing their spirit to preserving this piece of Grimsby history.

First on the agenda was one of the landowners, Ms. Patterson, and her heritage planner who in accordance with Town protocol would be afforded 10 minutes for presentation.  She asked for more time at the beginning believing that the Committee had not seen all three reports.

The Director of Planning Micheal Seaman noted that in recent weeks there has been removal of some of the architectural features at 33 Victoria Terrace and said it was an urgent situation.

In her speech to the Committee, Ms. Patterson stated the following:

  • “The ball only got rolling” (on a heritage designation) when they applied for a demolition permit
  • She questioned the credibility of Town Staff’s heritage expertise (in fairness, it should be noted the Director has extensive heritage experience)
  • Claimed there is nothing left of contextual relevance for heritage

Her heritage planner, David Cuming, presented next and stated:

  • The report on the Agenda was not the one he peer reviewed and there is another iteration of the report
  • That because there is no diaries of people arriving in Grimsby via steamship that one can not make historical conclusions
  • He believed the external heritage peer reviewer hired by the Town did not visit the cottage in drafting his report

After the delegation had finished their presentation to the Committee, Ms. Janice Hogg of Planning presented information on the report with some additional historical material.  Some of her commentary included:

  • That the trim and gable had been removed from the home on the second and most recent visit by Town staff
  • She spoke extensively on the “Chattaqua” movement, with Grimsby at one time being  the Chattaqua of Canada
  • Her research with a Chattaqua archivist in the United States revealed a close connection between the countries and architecture of other sites in the United States which have similar cottages and are National Historical sites
  • The Grimsby Cottages may be among the earliest of this style in North America

In response to a question from Alderman DiFlavio on whether the building can be brought back, the Director of Planning stated that it could as wooden buildings are “very forgiving” and that there is examples of people removing modern siding and the original building is underneath.

The Director added further historical context in describing a “hierarchy of built form” within Grimsby Beach during this historical period, depending on the affluence of the particular family.  He further added that there is a significance to the collective of the buildings and made the analogy that “if you take out a tooth, you loose overall value”.   The buildings also have a unique built form in Grimsby as they were made to fit into the very narrow lots of the time.

Alderman DiFlavio stated that he wanted the building to be preserved and that it would be nearly impossible to rebuild on that lot given zoning restrictions and the narrow size of the lot.  He stated to Ms. Patterson that the Town does make grant money available to help with preservation and restoration.

At this juncture, Ms. Patterson interrupted from the audience and stated:

  • The house does not look like it does before and that there has been at least 5 additions
  • That their investigation of the home did not reveal any structural posts behind the walls
  • An engineer was ready to condemn the house
  • That the home is full of mold, the building has shifted and the roof was caving in.
  • A quotation she received said that to refurbish the home they were looking at a $1 million cost
  • Suggested that they don’t even know if it’s the original house

Alderman DiFlavio sympathized with her comments but stated that evidence such as photos or a letter from the engineer was needed.  The owner responded that the Town did not even look at the house.  Order from the “back and forth” was restored by Chairman Dunstall and the Committee resumed their discussion with the Director of Planning.

Mr. Seaman clarified Ms. Patterson’s comment and stated that it was the same house and there is intent on finding the truth about the home.  He noted that it is common for new information to come up that could alter the interpretation of the building either way and that if that occurs the heritage designation would be modified accordingly.  In terms of removal of the cottage, it was his opinion that the Cultural Heritage Landscape (CHL) would be significantly diminished if it were to happen.

Chairman Dunstall drew attention to one of the numerous pieces of correspondence received in support of the designation, notably that this one letter offered to buy the property.  The author also stated though that they estimated repairs at $100,000 (as opposed to the current owner’s estimate of $1 million).  As he was not required for the impending vote he stated that tearing down the cottage would encourage others to follow suit and although it’s been left to deteriorate, it is not in a condition to be torn down but in a condition to be preserved and restored.  Chairman Dunstall stated it would be the “beginning of the end” in Grimsby Beach if the property was allowed to be torn down.

The Committee then addressed the resolution on the property:

“GH-18-17 – Moved by Ald. N. DiFlavio; Seconded by A. Brabant;

Resolved that Report G.H. 18-04 regarding the recommendation that 33 Victoria Terrace, be designated under Part lV of the Ontario Heritage Act, be received:

And that the Heritage Grimsby Advisory Committee recommends that the property known as 33 Victoria Terrace be designated under Section 29, Part.IV of the Ontario Heritage Act and a notice of intention to designate be issued.”

The resolution was passed unanimously by the Committee.

Towards the end of the meeting after a closed session and other agenda items, the Director of Planning and the Committee discussed the aspects of establishing a Heritage District in Grimsby Beach.  A resolution was passed by the Committee recommending that a Heritage District Study for Grimsby Beach be established and a Terms of Reference developed.

If you made it all the way down here and still want to know more about the heritage designation of this property, you are welcome as always to drop into this Tuesday’s Planning & Development Committee meeting on July 10 @ 7PM at Town Hall.  The homeowner has a representative from Romlee Homes presenting on her behalf as a delegation at the upcoming meeting.