The plot is familiar to Hamiltonians.
A building of heritage interest is scheduled for demolition, a 60-day countdown to the permit being issued begins, a rush occurs as the Municipal Heritage Committee tries to determine if they wish to block the demolition by designating the building, a heated debate ensues, Heritage Committee decides it should be saved, and then Council ultimately gets to decide.
Thus happened again at today’s Municipal Heritage Committee as a walk-in report announced to the committee that The Egerton Shaver House (Fig 17 on this Ancaster Township Historical Society page) is scheduled for demolition permit issue on February 13, 2017.
The application for to demolition is to facilitate the construction of a “retail commercial plaza as well as a 50 unit, 6 storey multiple dwelling on the site.”
The building, built c.1856, was first identified as being of potential heritage value in 1984.
Staff state the property meets three criteria for designation:
- “The dwelling is a representative example of Gothic revival architecture in Ontario. The dwelling demonstrates this architectural style in features such as the symmetrical facade, central gable with arched window and bargeboard detailing along the roofline”;
- “The property is directly associated with the Shaver family, one of the region’s earliest settler families and the United Empire Loyalists”; and
- “The subject property has the potential to yield information that contributes to an understanding of the local community and the development in the City of Hamilton”.
Debate at Committee
The discussion was lengthy, with various questions asked about the unique value of this home, its association with the Shaver Family Cemetery approximately 500 metres from this property, and the value of maintaining heritage in Ancaster.
The present owner of the site, who is proposing the new development, was asked by Ward 15 Councillor Judi Partridge – a member of the Committee – if they had consulted with Ward 12 (Ancaster) Councillor Lloyd Ferguson. They stated they had the support of Ferguson – this was not independently confirmed.
10-4 Vote To Designate
After much discussion, the Heritage Committee voted to designate the property under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Only Councillor Aidan Johnson voted to designate, with both Councillor Maria Pearson, and Partridge voting against designation.
The Heritage Committee’s decision must be voted on by Council’s Planning Committee at the January 30th meeting, followed by a full Council vote on February 8.
With 2-1 opposition to designated among the Councillors on Heritage Committee, it is unlikely the designation vote will stand. It is more likely Council will vote for demolition of this pre-Confederation home.
Sickening. Yet another casualty of big box development and commercial profit. Ancaster is touted as a charming historical village. Laughable as more heritage architecture is destroyed in the name of consumerism. The Egerton Shaver house could have been repurposed as a centre piece boutique amidst new shops to retain some small fragment of diminishing historic origin… Ancaster could make an effort to preserve at least some small token of its heritage as one sees in Niagara-on-the-Lake or even Dundas so it can honestly present itself as ” a charming heritage village”. But no, the outer fringes of Ancaster continue to grow into pavement, parking lots, homogenous strip malls and big box eyesores such that the community can’t be distinguished from any other urban sprawl outskirt. It appears those with the power lack awareness or are ignorant of aesthetics and history or care for nothing but profit. It astounds… The complacency and ignorance of the community…or more like, the destruction was not broadly advertised to avoid potential conflict with business interests. It is a tragedy and great loss to be added to the growing list of lost heritage architecture.