City's Building Division issuing order against owner of collapsed 130-year-old barn
LONDON, ONT. -- City hall is taking action against the owner of a heritage-listed barn that collapsed, but neighbours worry the incident has exposed a loophole that could endanger other heritage-listed buildings in London.
On Tuesday, the heritage-listed barn at 247 Halls Mill Road collapsed amid efforts by neighbours to have it designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Deputy Chief Building Official Peter Kokkoros said in a statement, “A building inspector attended and as a result an 'Unsafe Building-Order to Make Safe' will be issued under the Building Code Act."
The owner had also received an ‘Order to Comply’ from city hall’s Building Division on Nov. 11 because roof sheathing had been removed from the barn without a building permit.
“This is a wake-up call about how we protect our heritage buildings and the frustration keeping them safe and keeping the integrity of the buildings as well,” says Councillor Anna Hopkins.
“That might be a precedent for historical buildings and a way to get around the bylaws,” says neighbour Debbie Park. “That in the future that if you don't want to fix something, you want to let it fall down, you can just open up the roof.”
The Order to make the building safe gives the owner two weeks to make a decision, either erect a fence, apply for a building permit to repair the barn, or apply for a demolition permit.
The owner declined to be interviewed Thursday, but told CTV News that he intends to pursue demolition.
That triggers a 60-day review period for the London Advisory Committee on Heritage to comment and for a public participation meeting to be held by city hall’s Planning and Environment Committee.
Council will then make a final decision to designate the remaining structure or permit demolition.
Hopkins wants city hall to re-examine its policies around at-risk heritage buildings, “How we list heritage buildings and how we designate, and know the process is legislated to some degree, but I think there is a lot we can do in the city."