Wrecking ball will soon disturb our Mayfair slumber

Kitchener’s procedurally-shackled heritage committee met yesterday to belatedly contemplate the rapidly approaching demolition of the former Mayfair Hotel next door to city hall.
And what direct action was taken by committee members and heritage staff who were not consulted on the issue until after the demolition order was made?
Here we are a few days, possibly hours away from flattening the Mayfair and heritage defenders are bogged down in committee procedure as they wait for heavy equipment to flatten one more heritage building.
Delegates who spoke at the meeting were told bluntly that the only way to revive the Mayfair issue was to get a two thirds majority of council to support a motion to reconsider the issue at Monday’s council session.
Something that is very unlikely to happen.
Heritage committee members were also told they do not have the ability to recommend to council that the issue should be reconsidered and a heritage engineering expert be hired to complete a restoration review. Until now, requests that such an expert be allowed to consider ways to save the building or its facade have been rejected despite the fact similar reviews have saved other historic structures throughout Ontario.
Meanwhile, in the community, we have a dedicated group of depleted heritage supporters who lack the resources, energy and political clout to challenge or modify the demolition plan.That group have started a petition in an effort to save the Mayfair at (www.change.org/p/allow-knowledge-judgement-to-determine-the- future-of-the-mayfair-hotel‎).
At city hall, we have a majority of councillors including the mayor and the ward councillor for the Mayfair who, for legal and safety reasons, voted to remove a heritage intention to designate and allow demolition. Councillors are now part of a death watch waiting for the building owner to assemble satisfactory bids and create a proposal to tear down the building.
Speaking as a 30-year downtown resident, not a councillor, I attended the heritage committee meeting.
Here’s in essence what I said after noting that, three weeks after being warned about immediate safety hazards and potential building collapse, people are still strolling along King Street in front of the Mayfair:
* I said I was appalled at the rushed demolition and very angry the heritage committee and Kitchener’s heritage staff were not adequately consulted on the Mayfair issue.
* I listed local buildings including the old city hall that Kitchener council has, over the years, demolished along with other historic structures we have restored and saved.
* I urged committee members to do whatever they can to support the now desperate struggle to save the Mayfair.

This entry was posted in Heritage, Mayfair Hotel, Neighbourhoods. Bookmark the permalink.

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