Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
Responsive image

Magee House: "a matter of when, not if"

You are here

This morning, I attended a verbal update by City staff on the status of the Magee House. While there is no hard-and-fast date to demolish that building, I was encouraged to hear staff say that it is “a matter of when, not if.”

As of today, the owner has failed to demonstrate a viable plan for either preserving the building or demolishing it. That deadline was set on the basis of an expert engineering opinion this summer that winter would be seriously compromise the building and create a public safety hazard.

Under Ontario’s laws, the Chief Building Official has the power to issue emergency orders to deal with public safety issues. With the deadline for a plan for preservation or demolition now passed, the City is moving quickly to re-assess the building’s condition, a pre-condition to demolishing it. We should have that report within the next few days.

If the engineer’s report identifies a public safety issue, the City can move quickly to have the building demolished. The demolition of private property over the owner’s objection is never something to be taken lightly. If the City is determined in court to have abused its power, the consequences would be very severe. I have heard the concerns expressed by businesses and residents about safety, business losses, the loss of the sidewalk, and the eyesore that the building is in its current state. Since August, the City has been doing its due diligence to ensure that any demolition is undertaken strictly in accordance with the powers that it has. I would like very much to simply rely on the opinion given to us this summer, but the City is acting prudently in getting one more assessment.

I am frustrated today that the City cannot provide an exact date for when the Magee House can be demolished. However, it is very difficult for me to believe that a new assessment will find differently than this summer.

I cannot today say on what date the building will be torn down. I believe it will be sooner rather than later, and that the next several days will provide greater clarity. I have impressed on the City that resident and merchant concerns mean every 24 hours that pass exacerbate the issues we’re facing, and I believe they’re taking that seriously. We are moving toward a conclusion; this will not be another Somerset House. I hope soon to be able to provide another update.

Posted November 15, 2018