Newmarket Today tells us that Bob Forrest’s Main Street properties are now on the market – including the open space which the historic Simpson building used to occupy before it was unlawfully demolished. (photo: right)
I have just emailed the Mayor, John Taylor, to ask how this is possible.
As it happens, the Mayor was in touch earlier today to say a report on the demolition “is still some time away”. It could be a month or more - taking us right into the Christmas season.
The Mayor says he will commit to putting it on a future agenda. He says he and staff have spoken to Forrest and that the Town continues to gather information to understand all the facts. He says heritage preservation is their top priority – and I have absolutely no reason to doubt that. This is the man who made Mulock Farm a top priority. The question, therefore, is what is the best way forward to protect what we have and to rebuild what we have lost.
The Mayor says he wants to bring the site and the buildings back into full productive use. That’s good so far as it goes but it still leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
Questions awaiting answer
Why can’t we have some kind of interim report before the next Council meeting on 11 November?
We know nothing about the modalities of the investigation. Why can’t we be told?
Has the Town asked for - and received - anything in writing from Bob Forrest. Or if lawyers are sitting in on the exchanges. Or if Bob Forrest has made any kind of public statement. If not, why not? Or if the Town has a list of people it wants to interview. And, if so, if anyone has refused.
Has Bob Forrest provided everything the Town has requested?
Demolitions in Heritage Conservation Districts are, fortunately, relatively rare. But the Town should be checking the record on previous unlawful demolitions to see if they offer any guidance on the way forward.
Why didn’t Bob Forrest inform the Town beforehand that he was going to demolish the old building? Why was the debris removed in record time?
What happened to the $100,000 and the May 2018 agreement
How many people does the Town have working on the issue?
There are a million unanswered questions.
People who campaigned for years to save the old downtown from the predations of Bob Forrest deserve more than being kept in the dark.
Personally, I think an interim report to Council on 11 November 2019 makes a lot of sense.
Note: 184-194 Main Street South is an agenda item on tomorrow evening's Newmarket Heritage Advisory Committee but there is no written report.
Update at 18.00 on 4 November 2019: One of the realtors handling the sale, Joshua Campbell, tells Newmarket Today "the facade of the Simpson building was saved in the demolition, as had been required by the town". Really? How is this possible when we are told the building had to be demolished - without giving the Town notice beforehand - because it was unsafe?