College now free to tear down heritage buildings
By the time Ottawa decides whether or not several 1800s-era buildings should be demolished or not, work could already be underway to rip them down.
Yesterday, city council voted to reconsider approving demolition of the Ashbury College buildings at 204 and 212 Springfield Rd. and rejecting the private school’s proposal to build a dormitory there. But there’s nothing legally stopping the college from demolishing the buildings before the motion comes to council on March 26.
According to the Ontario Heritage Act, the city has 90 days to grant or refuse the school’s request to demolish. If city hall does not respond in that time, the application is deemed accepted. Ashbury College completed its application on Oct. 31, now leaving it free to follow through on its plans.
Tam Matthews, headmaster at Ashbury College, said yesterday the college respects the process and community concerns, but would not rule out demolition.
"We will have consultations with the board of governors," he said. "We’re excited and keen to proceed with the project, but we know it’s a process."
The Rockcliffe Park Residents’ Association argues that a simple design change to the dormitory plans — by flipping the ‘L’-shaped design — could save both heritage buildings, said association president Alex Macklin.
Macklin does not believe Ashbury would demolish the buildings before March 26, and he was optimistic that 204 Springfield could be saved.
Although the buildings are small compared to some mansions in the area, Coun. Georges Bedard said they formed part of a larger heritage district.
"As a whole, you have a complete district, that is what we are talking about here, a heritage district," he said. "They may not be significant on their own, but they represent the beginnings of the area."