(Photo: Barn at the Bradley-Craig farmstead, September 2015.)
UPDATE: The heritage committee has rejected the proposal to move the barn. The demolition will now be considered at a Planning Committee meeting in January.
This morning, the city’s Built Heritage Subcommittee will consider a proposal to demolish the barn at the Bradley-Craig farmstead, and move it to Munster.
The city’s heritage staff opposes the move, but Councillor Shad Qadri supports the plan. I’ve read a few comments and arguments over the past few weeks that deserve a bit more context and clarity.
In his weekly email to residents last week, Councillor Qadri wrote:
Ottawa’s property standards bylaw does require that the owners of heritage buildings maintain the building, including heritage features like doors or windows, as well as structural elements like the roof, foundation, and support beams. It is also the law that the owner ensure the barn is protected from construction. These bylaws can be enforced via work orders from the city, along with fines of up to $100,000.
If Councillor Qadri is concerned about the structural integrity or physical condition of the barn, he should ask the city’s building inspectors to look into it, instead of giving the owner permission to move it.
Heritage designation was added to the farmstead after Richcraft bought the property. How is that fair to the owner?
For one, the Heritage Act doesn’t require the owner’s consent for heritage designation. But in this case, Richcraft should have been well aware of the potential of a heritage designation. The property was on the former City of Kanata’s heritage registry (kind of a watch list for older buildings) prior to 2000. Richcraft didn’t buy the land until 2005, and it did not get heritage designation until 2010.
Also, as recently as 2014 Richcraft said they were committed to including the farmstead in their subdivision plans.
Isn’t it going to cost taxpayers a lot of money to upgrade the barn?
No, not a cent, because it’s the owner’s responsibility to keep the barn in good shape, not the city. Again, that’s the law. The only taxpayer money involved would be to enforce the property standards bylaw, if required.
Wouldn’t it be better off at Saunders Farm?
I have no doubt that the Saunders family would be good stewards for the building, but moving it to Munster would be an immense loss for Stittsville. What’s more, it’s unlikely that the barn would be eligible for heritage designation and protection at Saunders Farm, since the location of the barn on the Bradley-Craig farmstead is integral to its historic value.
What can you do with an old barn anyways?
Heritage designation doesn’t necessarily mean that the owner has to use the barn for traditional farming use, although that is an option. There are a range of adaptive uses that could be considered appropriate for this kind of building.
It’s a long road ahead to save the farmstead. The demolition application goes to the heritage subcommittee on Thursday, then planning committee in January, and then City Council after that.
To quote the developer’s own consultant report: “…the demolition, relocation and re-assembly are a copout on the part of the developer and indefensible as a conservation practice.”
I hope that councillors with side with the law, respect the farmstead’s heritage designation, and keep the barn right here in Stittsville.