Monday, August 11, 2008

Puff the heritage dragon

It's never been quite the same since legislated smoking bans blew away its characteristic thick, choking soups of cigarette fumes, but the 152 year-old Brunswick Hotel always managed to remain a landmark for unsolicited drunks sitting at your table, unsolicited offers to buy drugs and stolen goods, or, even more unsolicited, random stories about men raping men who rape their sisters. So it is with mixed feelings that many Londoners must greet the news that the property's owner has submitted an application to demolish the historic building…

…mixed feelings that one Joe O'Neil of London appears to share, allowing him to go so far as not to oppose the demolition despite regrets, according to the London Free Press. We might possibly suspect that we ought to consider the importance of Mr. O'Neil's opinion on the matter of developing private property not belonging to him, except that we have not been informed of the credentials that persuade the Free Press to call him a "heritage activist." Of course it must be said that neither would have been any Planning Committee deliberating on the subject of the demolition permit, but on the subject of exchange between citizens and the media it is glaringly obvious that what the London Free Press sees as the marketability of opinions has far more to do with its own than the market's.


Honey Pot said...

It is sad alright. Where will the people hang who have been banned from every bar in London?

Let them cannibalize the Wick, but if they go after the St. Regis, there will be hell to pay.

Butch McLarty said...

Joe O'Neil is in fact the chairperson of the City's provincially mandated advisory committee on heritage (LACH) which makes recommendations on heritage matters to Planning Committee and City Council thereafter.

MapMaster said...

Why should the Free Press spoil just a glorious designation by calling him simply a "heritage activist?" But although I am wiser to the office I am still uninformed of the credentials that entitle a man to pronounce title upon another man's property. Can I mail away for that?

Honey Pot said...

I think I will call myself ex officio treasurer of the city of London, and collect tax money from none the wiser.

I am a taxpayer, therefore, I should be able to lay claim,

It reminds when the new pl, a-channel or whatever in hell they call themselves now, were touting all those health, environment, money specialist reporters.

You knew damn well they didn't know their ass from their elbow, but they got to call themselves that, just because.

basil said...

The Wick is living history - much more so than some cottage where one historically significant person lived way back.

It should remain standing until it crumbles from all the sonic vibrations from within.

Butch McLarty said...

Mapmaster, I agree that the LFP should have identified Mr. O'Neil as the chairperson of LACH. Sloppy journalism, no doubt.

How does one become a member of LACH, a City advisory committee, which makes recommendations to City Council thru the Planning Committee?

You apply at city hall. Chairpersons of advisory committees are then elected each year by the advisory committee members.

Regarding government's ability to exercise some control over property rights in Canada, there's plenty of federal and provincial laws and municipal by-laws that do exactly that.

Not only in Canada but most countries around the world.

We've all heard of the Planning Act of Ontario, right? Or the Expropriations Act. Even the Ontario Heritage Act. The list goes on and on.

It is my understanding that the City of London currently has a lien against the Brunswick Hotel over the lack of repayment of a loan under the Facade Restoration Program -- a loan that was undertaken by the previous owner of the Brunswick and assumed by the current owner, Mr. D. Dencev.

I disagree with the position of Joe O'Neil and his colleagues on LACH who, apparently, have abandoned the fight to preserve the Brunswick Hotel, a landmark in London since 1855.

If interested, there's a "Save the Wick" group on Facebook.

The matter on the Brunswick's future goes to a special meeting of Planning Committee on Monday, August 18 at 4 pm and then City Council at 5 pm.

Obviously, the odds of the Brunswick''s survival are not good, given the position of its owner and that of planning staff.

Mr. Dencev also owns the Richmond Hotel, another property listed on London's Inventory of Heritage Resources, but not yet designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Butch McLarty said...

Mapmaster, one point that I omitted to mention, for what it's worth: Mr. Dencev did purchase the Beautiful Brunswick four or five years ago knowing that it was listed as a Priority On on the City's Inventory of Heritage Resources.

Priority One properties on the inventory mean that they're strong candidates for designation under the Ontario Heritage Act.

The BB was listed as a Priority One property from 1991 to July 0f 2008, when it was curiously downgraded to a Priority Two by LACH.