The oldest house in Newmarket, dating from 1811, is in a truly dire state.
So it is fortunate we have a heritage watchdog to act as our eyes and ears when old buildings are in danger of falling down. At its meeting last November, the Town's Heritage Newmarket Advisory Committee discussed the derelict state of Bogart House and decided photos should be taken of the decaying structure. These would then be passed to planning staff
"in order to commence a formal legal process to require remediation of the house."
This is excellent news. But why has it take so long to act? What has the Ward Councillor been doing other than twiddling his thumbs?
I took this photograph on 27 August 2015 but, even so, it doesn't tell the whole story. The back of the house was completely open to the elements.
A few days later (on 1 September 2015) in a wide-ranging blog about the venerable Dave Kerwin I mentioned the calamitous condition of Bogart House and urged action.
Its future was tied to a major development in Kerwin's ward. I wrote:
"The proposed development is next door to the wooded Bogart Trail with its attractive private lake. John Bogart House, the oldest house in Newmarket, is inconveniently situated on land the developer wants for other uses. So it is to be moved to a new location a short distance away.
The clapperboard house was constructed in 1811 and has been designated for its historical and architectural significance. John Bogart was a Quaker pioneer from Pennsylvania, who had a saw mill on the nearby creek. It is one of the first two storey residential buildings constructed north of Toronto. To me, this is quite a big deal.
Dave Kerwin might have told us the old house is open to the elements at the back with a non existent window letting in rain, snow and goodness knows what else. This bit of Newmarket history needs a quick repair job asap."
Earlier, on 15 June 2015, I had written to the Town expressing concern about "demolition by neglect". I was told the Town was looking at preparing a Heritage Building Standards By-law
"that will prescribe a minimum standard for the maintenance of the heritage attributes for the property both in a Heritage District or individually designated".
A year later, I followed this up asking what progress had been made. I was told Legislative Services had scheduled an update to the Town Wide Property Standards By-law on their work plan but due to other priorities work had not started (that was on 9 August 2016).
I am told many issues can be addressed under the current property standards by-law.
But, self evidently, some issues cannot be addressed.
Otherwise why was Bogart House allowed to deteriorate into its present lamentable condition?
If our by-laws aren't working we need to change them and instill new vigour into those charged with enforcing them.