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On the ground with special team of bylaw inspector and heritage planner

September 4, 2018
Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen

Perhaps the most tangible achievement of the Heritage Matters Task Force launched in 2016 by Mayor Jim Watson is the appointment of a special bylaw inspector tasked with keeping an eye on Ottawa’s most vulnerable and vacant heritage buildings.

In addition to the regular property-standards issues you might expect bylaw officers to be on the lookout for — such as broken windows, graffiti and long grass — the heritage inspector also keeps an eye on the unique attributes that qualified a building or property for heritage designation in the first place.

Is the mortar in tip-top shape? Are there cracks in the foundation? Is the building secured from animals, squatters and the elements?

About two dozen properties are on the city’s watch list for vacant heritage buildings, each inspected four times a year.

On a recent weekday, bylaw and regulatory services program manager Jake Gravelle and heritage planner Lesley Collins let a reporter tag along during a visit to two properties.

The first was a 19th Century farmhouse of Terry Fox Drive in Kanata.

Vacant since 2009, the building is an example of an Ontario gothic farmhouse, Collins explained. Now owned by Uniform Urban Developments, it is currently being redeveloped into an amenity space for the new Richardson Ridge community.

New windows have been installed and an addition is under construction, so Gravelle and Collins don’t appear worried the building’s owner is neglecting it. In fact, it be removed from the watch list by next spring if the work continues to proceed, Gravelle said.

The second building on the tour was the city’s former land registry office at 70 Nicholas, which is adjacent to the Rideau Centre (the building and mall are owned by Cadillac Fairview).

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