GRAVENHURST - Having encountered some opposition to altering the heritage designation bylaw for the Albion Hotel and its main street balcony, town staff will be recommending Sept. 18 the bylaw not be changed.
That does not mean the balcony won’t be torn down; manager of development services Scott Lucas said that still must happen as it is a health, safety and liability issue for the town, but the structure’s heritage designation will remain intact if council agrees with his recommendation.
The opposition to the bylaw alteration came from local resident David Bryce, who although not necessarily refuting the temporary removal of the balcony, was adamant before council the designation must remain in law and in writing with the goal of it being returned.
“I say to you heritage is important, that building’s important and you all agree with me, I’m convinced,” Bryce said to council Sept. 5. “The bylaw amendment isn’t the way to do it.”
“If the council wants that balcony removed and decides so by a majority vote, fine, I’ll go away,” he added, requesting the bylaw remain as-is so the balcony does not “get forgotten to time.”
Lucas said since the opposition came across council’s desk, he held meetings with Ontario Heritage Trust and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport “and it became clear that there are two separate issues at hand,” one being the safety of the balcony, which is in a state of disrepair, and the bylaw designation. He said it became clear that the town would be able to allow removal of the balcony until such time as it can be rebuilt, and keep its designation intact to ensure that happens in the future.
Originally staff had recommended the balcony’s specific designation be removed, thus allowing the structure to be removed, but now, the recommendation will be to leave the designation intact. The bylaw will return to council for debate Sept. 18.
“I think around the table, heritage is important to us all whether or not that balcony needs to be taken off,” Mayor Paisley Donaldson said. “But ideally what will happen at the end of the day is that it (the balcony) will go back on someday; but that will be something we have to discuss on the 18th.”