The developer Bob Forrest is responsible for the demolition of one of the Town’s most significant historic buildings, 184-186 Main Street South, situated in the heart of Newmarket’s downtown Heritage Conservation District.
Clearly no-one could order the demolition of the building (other than in circumstances where public safety was at risk) than the owner, Bob Forrest. (Photo shows Bob Forrest, centre, and his wife Colleen.)
According to Newmarket Today the demolition happened overnight between Wednesday October 9 and Thursday October 10. The rubble and debris was removed in short order.
"Take it down!"
On Thursday 10 October at 2pm, Dave Hunter, one of the owners of the Main Street business Lemon and Lime, was in conversation with a site supervisor (probably from Lions Demolition). Also present was the Newmarket Historical Society stalwart Ron Pilfrey. They both heard the supervisor say the building was unsound and that it would have taken $100,000 to fix
“so the owner said take it down.”
We shall get full details in due course.
The Town is currently doing its own investigation but this is damning evidence that comes from two long-standing and respected members of the local community.
The Mayor, John Taylor, told the press yesterday that he was infuriated by the destruction. He has every right to feel betrayed. On 4 May 2018 he told us:
“The agreement reached will see the Clock Tower and the store fronts redeveloped to full use with NO new construction.”
In fact, the agreement between the Town and Forrest’s Main Street Clock Inc allowed Forrest to get up to $100,000 of public money for the restoration of the old heritage properties.
Section 10 (b) of the agreement between the Town and Forrest’s MSCI says this:
“The Town will provide access to the Newmarket Downtown Development Committee (NDDC) incentive program up to a cap of $100,000 to the extent that the New Development Concept qualifies and meets program criteria...”
The program criteria does not mention demolition. The agreement did allow for the extensive remodelling of the interiors of the protected buildings. As far as I know there was no inventory taken of the heritage value of the interiors. I raised the issue at the time but, like many others, I sensed the Town was battle weary and just wanted to bring things to a conclusion.
When he was trying to sell his Project Landscape condo concept to us Forrest told us preserving heritage is not about:
"freezing old buildings in time and treating them as museum exhibits".
We now know that in Forrest’s perverted Orwellian double-speak preserving heritage can mean demolishing what you are purportedly trying to save. A bit like destroying the village in order to save it.
Bob Forrest cannot be trusted to keep his side of the bargain. He is, truly, the Barbarian at the gate.
If, as I believe, the evidence shows that Forrest ordered the demolition of the irreplaceable historic property at 184-186 Main Street South he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Note: The penalties for contravening the Ontario Heritage Act are set out in s69. The implications of a STOP ORDER are set out in s32.
Update Saturday 12 October 2019 at 21.00: And this is how Newmarket Today is reporting on recent developments.
Photo: April 2019 showing rear of 184-186 Main Street South (where orange screen is) taken from Market Square.
Lions Demolition and excavation. The signs were subsequently removed as they gave the impression - correctly as it turns out - that the work would involve demolition. Photo taken in April 2019.