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Provincial Heritage Watchdog to set up shop in Newmarket

A Newmarket Branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) is being formed to help defend the Town’s fragile Heritage Conservation District from rapacious developers intent on transforming forever the Town’s unique historic Main Street and its unmatched panoramas and vistas.

Why is it that some historic Main Streets in Southern Ontario thrive while others wither and die?

This was the existential question posed earlier this month by ACO President, Catherine Nasmith, to an audience of residents deeply concerned about Bob Forrest’s proposals to redevelop a swath of Main Street South at the Clock Tower in the very centre of the Town’s Heritage Conservation District.

Catherine told a packed meeting at Trinity United’s Church Hall in Park Avenue that old buildings had to be given special consideration. Once demolished, there is no bringing them back.

Unfortunately, the Mayor, Tony Van Bynen, arrived too late to hear the presentation and caught only the tail-end of the meeting.

Built 20 years before Confederation

One of the buildings Bob Forrest intends to demolish to make way for his seven storey rental apartment building dates from 1845 (184-186 Main Street South). It was owned by Charles Simpson who migrated to Newmarket from England. Simpson apprenticed himself for seven years under Dr John Bentley to become an apothecary and he ran his business from this address. He died during the 1879 typhoid epidemic that took the lives of 1 in every 10 people in Newmarket. This is one of the buildings casually earmarked for demolition with only the façade being retained.

Why settle for a pastiche when we already have the real thing?

The Clock Tower is a great example of the intensification we need

Catherine told the meeting that Heritage Conservation District (HCD) status offers protection from inappropriate development. But what happens if the Municipality itself votes against its own Heritage Conservation District By-Law? This is the Alice in Wonderland situation we now face in Newmarket with the Town’s Mayor, Tony Van Bynen, recently proclaiming:

“The Clock Tower is a great example of the intensification we need.”

Catherine said the OMB may offer a remedy but everyone knows it is capricious and impossible to read. And then there is the expense.

Councillors in Newmarket could vote in favour of Forrest’s seven storey apartment building in full knowledge it breaches their own Heritage Conservation District By-law which mandates a three storey height cap.

Sign the on-line Petition

Setting up a branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario will allow us to tap into architectural, planning and heritage expertise from across the Province.

Your support is invaluable. Add you name to this on-line petition to preserve and protect our historic Main Street.

There is no time to lose.

The Barbarians are at the gates.

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