New Neighbourhood Secondary Plan Announced
Construction to begin on James Street North
Between Barton – Murray – Strachan Q & A
What happens to the public art project installed less than 2 years ago on that sidewalk?
The public art will remain. Construction will work around it.
An additional lane for car traffic?
No additional lanes are being added
Removal of sidewalk trees?
No tree removals are anticipated
And what about pedestrian? Cyclists?
Existing walks and curbs will be replaced. No cycling facilities are included
How are businesses on this block to survive? Is there compensation for them?
The construction will start from Aug 11th to Oct 24th. Through traffic will be affected during this time. Access to business will be maintained as much as possible during this time.
MacNab becomes a bus route for #4 99?
For details on Bus detours please visit Hamilton.ca/hsr
Will trucks also be re routed to the residential street?
Trucks will have to be on the adjacent truck route not through residential streets.
Supercrawl next month ?
Supercrawl will continue. Construction will be north of Barton Street intersection. We will make every effort to limit impact to this event.
Update on the Queen Street Traffic Study, Complete Streets and Strategic Road Safety
According to Raise the Hammer, after decades of stonewalling efforts to make neighbourhood streets safer, the Public Works Department finally seems to be taking complete streets seriously. Read the whole story here.
James Street Baptists Church: the oldest surviving Baptist church in Hamilton
by Janice Brown, President of the Durand Neighbourhood Association (adopted from the Architectural Concervancy of Ontario Acorn)
HISTORY AND GLORY DAYS:
Irish architect Joseph Connolly built James Street Baptist Church between 1878 and 1882. Connolly specialized in the Gothic Revival Style. Situated at James and Jackson Streets, it is a significant landmark in Hamilton and has been referred to as the southern gateway to “Hamilton’s Famous Five,” which include St Paul’s Presbyterian Church (1854), the Bank of Montreal (1928), the Sun Life Building (1905), and the Pigott Building (1928). All of these buildings are designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
James Street Baptist is unique among Hamilton churches as it is distinguished for its use of rock-faced masonry walls, a dominant corner tower, and heavily buttressed facades. The original features of the exterior facade are protected by heritage designation, including the slate roof, masonry walls, detailing, and all window and door openings.
DECLINE AND SALE:
In 1917, the Church’s members peaked at 847; however, as with many churches, members dwindled and money became scarce for the necessary upkeep and maintenance. In the summer of 2012, James Street Baptist was listed for sale at $1.1 million. It was sold to Stanton Renaissance, a Toronto developer, for $610, 000. Louie Santaguida, CEO of Stanton Renaissance, knew that he purchased a designated property and stated that he was “…committed to preserving the building’s heritage and marrying it with high quality modern design to create a valuable space that would enrich the community.” At the time of purchase, Santaguida also knew that the building had a number of structural issues, particularly the north exterior wall. The structural issues were identified in two engineer’s structural reports commissioned by the trustees for the Church for the sale.
CHANGE IN PLANS:
In September 2013, Stanton Renaissance submitted a 129-page report requesting a “partial demolition” of the church. In an interview in October 2013, and during Heritage Permit Review meetings, Santaguida repeatedly stated, “The extent of the damage to the building’s structural integrity was not known at the time of purchase.” He further commented that it was only after he hired engineers who completed a third investigation with an amendment to that report that it appeared that the Church structure was deemed “unsound” and would have to come down as it was “in imminent danger of collapsing.”
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
Through “delegated authority”, the City issued a “minor alteration” permit. By June 6, 2014, 80% of the building disappeared forever in a cloud of dust. What remains is the east facade and tower.
A “partial demolition” is considered a “minor alteration,” and according to the municipal by-law on “delegation of powers” for heritage permits, the proposed partial-demolition (alteration) application followed the approval route through the Heritage Permit Review Committee (a sub-committee of the Municipal Heritage Committee) directly on to the Director of Planning.
In the opinion of heritage advocates, this was not a “minor alteration” when 80% of a designated landmark building disappeared. The decision should have gone to the Municipal Heritage Committee for advice and then ultimately to City Council for final approval. Another unfortunate situation with this “delegation of powers” is that it does not allow for any public consultation.
Further, several people questioned why the Permit Review Committee and/or the Director of Planning would not have requested a peer review, especially when the developer commissioned the final engineering report. It is noteworthy that with each engineer’s report, the structural integrity of the Church became direr.
What is also disturbing is that there was never a plan for what was being proposed at the time of the request for “minor alteration.” The Durand Neighbourhood Association asked its City Councillor to address its concerns to appropriate City staff, stating, “demolition and the subsequent redevelopment cannot be considered independently.”
This raises a very serious question. How can a city allow the demolition of a heritage building without knowing the development proposal?
At this time, no site plan application or drawings of the redevelopment have been submitted.
WHAT WE KNOW:
James Street Baptist is mostly gone. The developer has assured the City that he will incorporate the facade and other salvaged church materials into a 30-storey mixed-use development worth up to $80 million. This development was also the first to be reviewed by Hamilton’s new Design Review Panel*, which is a panel comprised of architects. Unfortunately, this is just an advisory panel. The developer does not have to abide by any suggestions made by this panel, nor does the public have access to the suggestions of this panel.
There is, however, one positive outcome in all of this. There will be a complete review of “delegation of powers” and “minor alterations” by the Planning and Economic Department for the City of Hamilton. Results of this review are expected in the fall. Too late for James Street Baptist, but not too late for other heritage sites in the Durand neighbourhood that could possibly be in danger of demolition or “minor alterations.”
*The City of Hamilton Design Review Panel – Pilot Project (DRP) was established by City Council in order to provide expert and impartial design advice and guidance to Hamilton Planning staff on urban design matters of development within Design Priority Areas for a pilot period of two years to expire on December 31, 2015.