Now that a majority of councillors have voted to flatten yet another downtown historical building, I will soon be left searching the rubble for answers to questions about how the few remaining heritage structures in the core can be saved.
Confronted with safety concerns about the condition of the former Mayfair Hotel at Young and King a majority of council members — Mayor Berry Vrbanovic along with Couns Scott Davey, Dave Schnider, Kelly Galloway-Sealock, Bil Ioannidis, Paul Singh and downtown councillor Sarah Marsh—voted to remove its potential heritage designation so the building could be flattened.
I joined Couns. John Gazzola, Yvonne Fernandes and Zyg Janecki to oppose the demolition.
Before that vote took place, I moved that council defer the Mayfair decision for two weeks so the city could obtain an independent report on the issue from a heritage restoration expert.
That effort failed 7-4 with similar opposition and support from councillors. Which is too bad because similar expert opinions and reports have helped save unsafe historic buildings that once faced the wrecking ball elsewhere in Waterloo Region and other parts of Ontario.
After extensive damage to the Mayfair’s foundation was recently discovered, two engineering reports quickly declared the building unsafe and, concerned about public safety, the city’s building director recommended to council that an intention to designate the heritage building be removed so it could be demolished.
Strange that the Mayfair would be condemned as unsafe when, at time of writing, hundreds of pedestrians continue to freely walk by the King Street frontage of the site while the Young Street portion has been closed to the public.
And, how ironic that councillors voted unanimously at a recent council session to accept a report documenting 55 cultural landscape locations in Kitchener. One of those landscapes includes the former Mayfair as part of a downtown landscape worthy of preservation.
I suggested the deferral because, for past decades, Kitchener council has had a very dubious record of heritage preservation starting with a vote to tear down its old city hall about 45 years ago. More recently, structural damage caused by neglect resulted in demolition of other downtown heritage buildings including the Forsyth Shirt Factory and the Barra Castle apartments on Queen Street.
As a downtown councillor who ran for election with heritage preservation as a priority, I feel strongly council has a responsibility to do everything possible to protect and nurture its heritage buildings.
I’m very disappointed councillors didn’t delay demolition and fully investigate potential ways to preserve the Mayfair.
Issues by Category
- ALS Challenge
- Arts & Culture
- Centre in the Square
- Cherry Park
- city hall repairs
- Democracy Ward 9
- Flag flap
- Giving thanks
- Greener City
- Leisure activity subsidy cards
- Light Rail Transit
- Low-Cost Housing
- Mayfair Hotel
- Perks and Expenses
- Rainbow flag
- refugee crisis
- Regional economy
- Rockway Seniors
- Speeding Traffic
- Vibrant Downtown
- Victoria Park
- Voter Turnout
- Ward News
- Where's Frank