Dave Ruggle, the senior planner responsible for the Clock Tower file, told the Heritage Newmarket Advisory Committee last night that Bob Forrest’s proposed redevelopment on Main Street will likely be considered by the Town’s Committee of the Whole on Monday 18 April. He also confirmed there probably would be a second public meeting given the first one was over two years ago, on 3 February 2014.

Athol Hart, who chairs the influential statutory Advisory Committee, said Forrest’s proposals would be considered formally at its next meeting on 5 April 2016 following a report by a sub-committee.

Insurance Cover

In a powerful presentation, Doug Booth, the chair of the Board of Trustees of Trinity United Church, expressed concerns about the impact of any construction and excavations. He told the Advisory Committee the Church would want the developer to underwrite the cost of insuring against catastrophic damage. He said $10m of insurance would be required. Mr Booth drew attention to the delicate and fragile stained glass windows which need special care and attention.

In a letter to Athol Hart dated 8 March 2016 the Chair of Trinity’s Church Council, John Ostime, wrote:

“While we support improved and increased residential space on Main Street, we are very concerned with the proposal. Specifically, we are concerned with the height of the development and its impact on the daylight available to the church. Also, we are concerned with parking in an area already with limited space available and we are extremely concerned with the flow of the underground stream.”

“Trinity United has already had to make a substantial expenditure due to shifting of our walls caused by a change in flow of the water. Any future development must take into account the water flow. As we all know, the water will flow and find its path of least resistance. Trinity United as well as many other buildings in downtown Newmarket will be badly impacted if any proposed building impacts the water flow and is not accounted for properly.”

Wrong place

The Advisory Committee also heard from Anne Martin, a leading light on the downtown business improvement area committee and former council candidate for Ward 5. Her slide presentation showed how the 6 storey condo in Aurora at Yonge and Wellington – currently under construction – was already negatively dominating the surrounding residential area.

She takes the view that Bob Forrest’s proposed apartment building is in the wrong place.

Forrest’s seven storey apartment building is within the boundaries of the Heritage Conservation District which stipulates a maximum height of three storeys. The policy makes it clear:

“demolition and replacement of historic buildings needs to be avoided since the conservation of historic buildings is essential to maintaining the district’s authentic historic character and revitalizing the district.”

Forrest’s plans involve the demolition of a string of historic commercial properties including one, at 184-186 Main Street, dating from 1845. It was owned by Charles Simpson who was apprenticed under Dr John Bentley for seven years to become an apothecary. He ran his business from this property. He died during a devastating typhoid epidemic that decimated Newmarket in 1879, taking the lives of one in every 10 people.

Façades to be saved from the wrecking ball

Forrest wants to retain the façade of this building and others that will come down if he gets approval from councillors.

Bob Forrest’s properties at 180-194 Main Street lie within the boundaries of Newmarket’s Heritage Conservation District. On 21 October 2013 Newmarket Council enacted the Lower Main Street South Heritage Conservation District Bylaw 2013-51 and it came into effect on that day except for the land owned by Forrest which is the subject of an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.

In August 2013 Bob Forrest filed a rezoning application to redevelop the lands at 180­-194 Main Street. He says his application was lodged at the Town before the Bylaw came into effect and was complete. He has appealed to the OMB on this point. The Heritage Conservation District Policy, which is the subject of the Bylaw, was agreed in 2011.

A date has not been set for hearing of the OMB appeal until after Newmarket Council makes a decision on the rezoning application for the Forrest-owned lands.

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