The debate over the future of an historic property in Aldershot will continue.
The property owner has appealed a decision of the Committee of Adjustment (CofA) which refused his application to sever the land into three parcels.
The disagreement is not so much about the severances, that would turn one lot into three, it’s really about the long-term protection of the architecturally significant home currently at the centre of the property.
The home at 977 Unsworth Avenue is known at the George Unsworth House. It is listed on the Burlington Municipal Register of Cultural Resources, but is not ultimately protected with a formal Heritage Designation under the Ontario Heritage Act.
At two hearings earlier this year the CofA heard repeatedly from the owner/developer that he is willing to protect the home and even consider designating it under the Ontario Heritage Act. When questioned by Committee members, however, he hedged, indicating he was only interested in designating the façade of the home and then only if the City initiated the process.
The Committee did not like his answers and were disappointed to find out that it could not force the designation as a condition for approval of the severances. Ultimately, it turned down the owner’s request despite being told by staff that the Committee had no jurisdiction over historic designations.
Only City Council can designate homes under the Ontario Heritage Act and Burlington Council has been reluctant in the past to force designation on property owners.
The Unsworth Home “has historic value because it was built for George Unsworth who operated a successful produce farm that included 3 acres of glasshouses at its height”, according to one heritage study of the property.
By Rick Craven