Wellington West BIA wants city to speed up work on Magee House

The Wellington West BIA is calling on the city of Ottawa to speed up its work on Magee House.

In a letter sent to city staff, the BIA says  it is concerned with legal, heritage and technical hurdles that “will almost certainly” delay any progress on the site until late Fall or early Winter.

“The crisis here is percolating and the longer this goes on the worse that is going to get,” said the Executive Director for the Wellington West BIA Dennis Van Staalduinen.

Van Staalduinen says businesses in the area are already seeing reduced business and foot traffic as a result of a sidewalk closure, fewer parking spots and narrowed streets. He says the city needs to stabilize the building so pedestrians can safely cross in front of it rather than crossing to the other side of the road.

“The businesses are reporting lower sales, safety hazards, honking horns and people walking into traffic,” he said. “Since the fence went up, not a lot has happened. Stones are still on the sidewalk, blocking the sidewalk and a few parking spaces.”

The issue stems from a partial collapse of the heritage home back in July, 2018. The Magee House was built in 1874 and given heritage designation in 1996. That designation means the city of Ottawa has a say in what happens to the building and how it has to be repaired.

The local councilor for the area Jeff Leiper says the city is committed to that November deadline.

“The city is working on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour discussion with the owner around some insurance considerations, the legal considerations and the heritage considerations,” he said. “I don’t think there is any disagreement at this point that the building has to come down and there is a really had deadline, and that is before the snow flies. Neither the city nor myself want to see it go that long.”

Before demolition can begin, Leiper says the city needs to determine how it can best preserve or honour the building's heritage elements. 

“City council is going to have to weigh in on whatever the heritage approach is to this building,” he said. “We have heard loud and clear that the community wants some sort of preservation done here.”