What has happened to Newmarket’s Bogart House is a disgrace. 

For years it has been rotting away, a victim of cavalier neglect by the owner, the developer Forest Green Homes, and paralysing inaction by the Town of Newmarket. 

In the Town’s “Council Highlights” a few weeks ago the Town says Bogart House is a designated heritage house and is one of the most important heritage buildings in the community.

It is so important they let it get to the point where a puff of wind could blow the old house down.  

When I contacted the Town in 2015 to alert them to the dreadful state of this historic property nothing happened. I was told there was no specific Heritage Property Standards By Law and the Town’s legal department was too busy to draft one. But I shouldn’t worry as the general property standards by law covered all the bases and would do the trick. 

Bogart House in happier times

Life continued much as before with the old house becoming ever more ruinous

Finally, in November 2017 the Town stirred itself and updated its Property Standards By-law and there is now an extensive section dealing with heritage properties – from section 50 onwards. 

Curiously, the Town’s Information Report of 31 January 2018 which told us the developer wanted to demolish the old house makes no reference to the updated Property Standards By-Law which contains a slew of new provisions relating to heritage properties. Why? 

Of course, the Town would have to agree to demolition (and they have now made it clear they won’t) but why was nothing done over the years to stop the rot?

The City of Brampton and lots of other municipalities have make it crystal clear that demolition by neglect is never OK. We should be equally robust.

The Clock Tower boarded up for years

The Clock Tower and the heritage buildings on Main Street South owned by Bob Forrest have been empty and boarded up for years.

I shudder to think what kind of state they are in. 

      From Council Highlights: Putting a spin on disgraceful inaction.

Why can’t we take a leaf out of Hamilton’s book when it comes to protecting vacant buildings

Municipal Law Enforcement Officers proactively inspect vacant buildings at least 4 times a year and will enforce by-law violations. Failure to comply with all directions of the by-law will result in fines of $10,000 for an individual and $50,000 for a corporation upon first conviction and fee for Inspection costs.

I do not want to hear the Town of Newmarket tell me in the months (or years) to come that, after detailed inspection, the heritage buildings south of the Clock Tower are too far gone and cannot be saved.

The Town should be looking under the tarpaulins and getting inside.

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Update on 18 April 2018: 

The new Property Standards By-Law was considered by the Town’s Committee of the Whole on 6 November 2017, almost three and a half years after the Town’s Heritage Advisory Committee had urged the Council to act to prevent the demolition of heritage properties by neglect. The report to councillors said this:

On June 3, 2014 Council approved the Heritage Committee’s recommendation that a by-law to prevent demolition of heritage properties by neglect be considered for the Town of Newmarket and that Council direct staff to conduct the necessary research and analysis to include in the Property Standards By-law. 

The Ontario Heritage Act permits municipalities to utilize a Property Standards By-law to prescribe minimum standards for the maintenance of heritage attributes of properties that have been designated under Parts IV and V of the Ontario Heritage Act. Amendments to the Act also removed the right to demolish a building or structure on a designated property without Council’s written consent. 

The amendments proposed to the Property Standards By-law only apply to properties designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, not to listed heritage properties. 

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