Committee reconfirms heritage designation for former W.C. Edwards building

A graphic with Ottawa City Hall is in the background. A vertical grey stripe and a horizontal brown stripe are in the foreground with "Built Heritage Committee update" in the centre.

The Built Heritage Committee today recommended the City not withdraw the notice of intention to designate the former W.C. Edwards and Company building(link is external) at 290 City Centre Avenue as a heritage building. 

After Council approved the proposed designation in January, the building’s owner filed a notice of objection, which requires Council reconsider its decision. City heritage staff have reviewed the objection and the assessment of the property remains unchanged. The building continues to have design value as a representative example of the Spanish Colonial Revival style. It also has direct associations with W.C. Edwards and Company, one of the largest early lumber establishments in Ottawa and eastern Ontario. The highly visible building also marks the transition between West Centretown and Hintonburg. 

The objection indicated the property is on contaminated soils, but designation would not prevent remediation, and the City can approve a heritage application to facilitate such work. The objection also states the building needs structural repairs, but a property’s condition does not impact its cultural heritage value. Designation will not prohibit repairs, and the property may be eligible for funding under the City’s Heritage Grant Program for Building Restoration to help pay for such work. 

The Committee approved an application to demolish the six-storey medical office building on O’Connor Street(link is external), between MacLaren and Gilmour streets. The building is a non-contributing property within the Centretown and Minto Park Heritage Conservation District. The application aligns with the policies and guidelines of the district plan, and demolition would not negatively impact the overall cultural heritage value of the conservation district. 

After demolition, the applicant would be required to build temporary, privately owned public park space on site until it can be redeveloped. The City has already received Official Plan and zoning applications for a planned future redevelopment. The Built Heritage Committee would also need to consider a future heritage application for the redevelopment, to ensure the new building is compatible with the heritage conservation district. 

The Committee approved a motion to facilitate installation of a monument to Irish Famine refugees(link is external) within Macdonald Gardens Park in Lowertown. The park, at 541 Rideau Street, is a designated heritage property, and installing the monument would require a heritage permit. The monument would be designed around a pair of bronze shoes from Ireland that signify the hopeful journey and flight from famine. The costs to ship, produce and install the memorial would be covered by the fundraising efforts of the Bytown Famine Monument Committee.  

Council will consider the monument item and the 290 City Centre item on Wednesday, May 15. The O’Connor street item will rise to Council on Wednesday, May 29. 

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