Council Must Decide: Demolish or Save the Hermitage Ruins
In a 5-2 vote, City Council’s Planning Committee favours the partial demolition of the Hermitage Ruins – overruling the advice of the Municipal Heritage Committee and the Heritage Permit Review Sub-Committee – setting up a critical vote on Friday at the full Council.
Councillors will have to decide between a staff recommendation to allow the partial demolition of the Ancaster Hermitage Ruins or side with its Municipal Heritage Committee in opposing the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s partial demolition request.To make things a bit more interesting, Councillor Brian McHattie – who is Chair of the Conservation Authority’s Board – is favoring the partial demolition of the heritage property and Councillor Lloyd Ferguson is opposing.
The Authority is requesting to lower the walls of the 1855 summer home built by George Leith, who was a wealthy Scottish immigrant, to 1.2 metres or less from their present up to 11 metre height.
The ruins were destroyed by a 1934 fire, acquired by the Authority in 1972 and designated – at the request of the Authority – as a heritage structure in 1990.
The Authority estimates the cost of the partial demolition at $144,000 to $194,000 whereas the cost of a full restoration of the structure to make it structurally stable is estimated at $535,000 to $940,000.
Conservation Authority managers state the Authority lacks the funds for a full restoration and that the site – which is fenced off – is a liability concern as trespassers are climbing the fence to climb the ruins.