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Death Of A City Block

So, what happens when our elected officials disregard the reports prepared by administration? We end up with a completely dead and vacant city block in the core of the city. The final remnant of a city block bounded by Glengarry, Assumption, Aylmer and University located at 304 Glengarry came down late last week.

There is now a giant hole in the core of the Glengarry – Marentette area. The Glengarry – Marentette CIP ( full report available here) was approved by our esteemed council on October 6, 2003. Six years ago, yesterday, yet still no action has been taken in this area. [The Glengarry – Marentette CIP area, is actually the block just north of here, the CIP only covers 6 blocks. If the City had worked on only one block a year, it would be done by now…]

I guess that’s not entirely false, there have been lots of fires and demolitions in the area in the last 6 years, but nothing helpful. I doubt that wiping away the historic building stock is helpful.

As you can see by the layout of the block in 1937, the area was a densely filled block with a mix of single family, duplex housing a commercial building and an apartment building.

An aerial view of the block from 1949.

Even by 1981, the west half of the block was still relatively dense, with a nursing home occupying the east half of the block.

By 2006, only the apartment building, commercial store and nursing home were still standing. The big decline occurred during this 25 year period.

The nursing home fronting University Avenue…

… came down in May, 2006.

The Cohn apartments built in 1914, was initially a true mixed use building, with two stores and three apartments…

…was next, and came down shortly after the nursing home.

By 2007, 304 Glengarry a century old commercial/residential building was the last man standing.

This view from early 2006, shows all three buildings visible. Today, nothing remains.

So, what is the point of reports that recommend denial of permits? [Full report here]

The report noted the following:

RECOMMENDATION:

That the application to demolish the building at 304 Glengarry Avenue BE DENIED.

Demolition Control By-law 11806 states that a demolition permit can be issued automatically where the applicant has a proposed development for the site and agrees to substantially complete the development within a time frame as determined by Council, within a maximum time of two years. The applicant has indicated that he has no redevelopment plans for the site at the present time. Chifor Investments Limited owns the entire block between Glengarry Avenue to Aylmer Avenue and University Avenue East to Assumption Street. Currently, there is a Correction Order for an illegal parking lot at the east end of this block against Chifor Investments Limited. The RD3.1 zoning district does not permit a public parking area and the use of this lot as a public parking area would not be permitted.

CONCLUSION:
By-law 11806 was passed to prevent premature demolition of buildings in the Neighbourhood Surrounding the Downtown Area. Allowing demolition of this combined use residential/non-residential building would not be in keeping with the intent of the Demolition Control Bylaw as the building is structurally sound and there is no redevelopment plans for the building.

Despite all this, our council voted yes to let the demolition proceed.

So remember when you hear about how the downtown area is losing population, and there is no residential base to support retail in the core, moves like this to allow residential units to be removed should be looked upon with a critical eye.

There is now an entire vacant city block. The demolition control bylaw was created to prevent “blockbusting” or so I heard one of our councilors claim recently at council. However, I don’t think he really knows what blockbusting means.

The video above was from a different “request to demolish”. Despite councilor Lewenza’s best efforts the permission was not granted this time. Council actually heeded administration’s recommendation.

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