Planning committee approves plan to demolish 19th century building, with conditions

A crumbling, red brick house on O’Connor Street, which has stood since the late 1800s, could soon be demolished.

The City of Ottawa Planning Committee approved a plan Tuesday to demolish the building at 234 O’Connor Street and replace it with a temporary community park.

Twice, the Planning Committee put the vote on hold for further review before finally voting Tuesday to demolish the building, in contrast to the recommendation by City staff to deny the request.

The City says the owner has tried to stabilize the structure, but the framing, foundation and brick walls have suffered serious deterioration after what the City calls "years of neglect."

The approval comes with several conditions, including that the cost of the park being designed, built, and maintained come out of the landowner’s pocket alone, that the finished park meet all City standards and be publicly accessible, and that a replacement building must be “substantially completed” within five years.

Of the 10 City Councillors on the Committee, only Jeff Leiper and Tobi Nussbaum dissented.

The plan must still go before full City Council on April 26, for final approval.

The plan first came before the City in late 2015, when the property owner first appealed to the Ottawa Fire Service for a Fire Marshall Demolition Order. The home had been damaged by fire and has been vacant for approximately 15 years. Ottawa Fire said the building did not pose an immediate fire risk, but supported the demolition of the building, suggesting it go through the standard protocols.

In January, the application for Demolition Control came to the City, along with the owner’s plan to build a temporary park in its place. The plan had to be put on hold, pending a decision under the Ontario Heritage Act, because the building is in Centretown Heritage Conservation District. The City estimates the house was first built sometime between 1879 and 1901. The Heritage Act application was received last August. The plan came before the Planning Committee in October and November of 2016, where each time a decision was postponed.