UXBRIDGE: At a recent Uxbridge council meeting, councillors voted to not give the house that was once home to Uxbridge war-hero, Sam Sharpe, a heritage designation.
50 First Avenue, has been owned by Robert Bishop and Jennifer Durkin for almost 30 years, and they strongly opposed the heritage designation for their property.
When a home receives a heritage designation, the homeowners can no longer modify anything that effects the outside of their home, without seeking council’s approval.
Any renovations to the exterior of the house, such as a changing of the windows or shingles would have to be in line with the time-period in which the house was built.
Councillor Pat Molloy, who voted against the designation, said, “With a designated house there is no negotiations, you are pretty much required to do whatever the municipality tells you to do.”
He calls the Ontario Heritage Act “extremely invasive” for homeowners. Designations can be done without the homeowner’s consent and often come in the form of a letter.
He said, “If you buy a house that is designated as a historical residence, I understand that, and you should stick within the rules. But when you’ve lived in a house for 29 years and someone comes and says, out of the blue, your house is now under our regulations, I don’t think that’s fair.”
Tamara Williamson, who is a member of Heritage Uxbridge, is upset with council’s decision to not designate 50 First Avenue.
“People have the wrong idea, they should be proud if their house gets designated, because it will always be preserved then, which is a great thing,” she said. “I live in a century home and if I sold it and drove past it in a year, and somebody had put siding on it or altered it, I would be absolutely gutted.”
Tamara told the Standard the current home owners have done a great job preserving the historical aspects of 50 First Avenue.
“Their house certainly looks like they have really cared about it, which is why it surprises me so much, that they would be so against it being designated,” she said. “I think they would be scared someone might buy it, go in, and make big alterations.”
Although, Councillor Molloy said the house is still on the Heritage Register, which protects it from demolition and significant changes.
He said, “I think it’s a great compromise, and I think we’ve sort of dealt with the historic part and also dealt with the personal rights part.”
Adding that, “Outside of the provincial legislation, I think we have a much better opportunity to work with residence to make sure their homes are well taken care of.”
The home owners are happy with council’s decision and told the Standard they feel their rights were respected.
Tamara, would have liked to have seen a heritage designation, she said, “If I walk past that house in five years and they did something terrible to it, I will remember this day, and I will be gutted because we had a chance to protect this beautiful home.”
Councillor Molloy stands with his decision.
He said, “We don’t want more government we want less government, and we certainly don’t want government in our living rooms or our front lawns. We live beside these people, they are our friends, they are our neighbours, so you have to sit back and say my God, how can you do that, to me or to them?”