Dundas neighbours put wrench in Toronto couple’s home plans

Ali Topan

The rendering of the brand new home in outdated Dundas affords a contemporary, brilliant design that matches with the classic neighbourhood.

Or it’s flashy and out of context with the Victorian environment.

Debate over the imaginative and prescient for 208 Melville St. within the city core appears moot at this level, as a result of a petition opposing demolition of an present residence on the property has helped delay, if not scuttle, the plans of its new house owners, a Toronto household that purchased the home for $1.05 million.

“We’re a younger couple making an attempt to construct a house for our youngsters and really feel we’re being pushed out of a city that we have been promised was hospitable … I’m simply type of gobsmacked,” stated Jenny Fellman.

Fellman and husband Doug Chapple purchased the 132-year-old stucco home in September 2021, drawn by Dundas’s status as a “walkable” and pleasant neighborhood.

The itemizing learn: “Charming century residence within the coronary heart of Olde Dundas … Best for traders or in case you are in search of a spot to renovate and name residence … Giant 50’x120’ lot leaves room for a lot potential!”

The couple says recommendation they obtained steered probably the most cost-effective plan was demolishing the outdated and constructing new, somewhat than renovating. The house shouldn’t be a chosen heritage property.

They started acquiring permits final spring towards demolition, and paid to put in a required new water and sewer line; Fellman stated they’ve paid for permits, securities, and architectural charges totalling almost $150,000.

Dundas neighbours put wrench in Toronto couple’s home plans

Joel Tanner, CEO and inventive director of SMPL Design Studio, the Hamilton architectural agency that designed the brand new residence, stated the whole lot had been authorised and all that was required was a “clerical” sign-off from the town on demolition. That may have occurred final week — however for a brand new wrinkle at a metropolis council assembly Sept. 28.

At that assembly, Ward 13 Coun. Arlene VanderBeek proposed a movement for a heritage conservation district research of properties on Melville Road, triggering an interim management bylaw that places a halt to new building and demolition for one 12 months. The movement handed.

She cited the petition that had been signed by “75 members of the neighbourhood which consists of solely 84 houses.”

The petition requested an “pressing” evaluation of the looming residence demolition, including that “208 Melville is a sound home. It’s architecturally consultant of its authentic period and blends into our widespread streetscape.”

VanderBeek informed The Spectator that she feels for the couple, and it’s “unlucky” they’re “caught on this state of affairs,” however the measure is “the one approach we will shield and outline the vital total heritage character” of the neighbourhood.

In an e-mail, she added that she had not seen the brand new design when she made the movement, and the petition was just one consider her resolution, along with an “outcry” of concern expressed by neighbours “as soon as folks realized that the home at 208 was going to be demolished.”

Tanner, nonetheless, feels his purchasers have been focused by a last-minute political hijacking after having jumped via the required allow and planning hoops.

“We are actually in a predicament the place the consumer has to spend more cash and waste extra time, and lose the development season window … They will’t transfer to Dundas subsequent fall with their youngsters to go to highschool,” he stated. “We now have been put in a pickle and it’s irritating.”

Chapple stated “the monetary toll is insane … and there’s additionally the emotional toll, after you’ve put your coronary heart and soul into constructing your dream.”

The petition was organized partially by Melville resident Don Oakie. He stated it was by no means anybody’s intention to upset the brand new house owners, however harassed the significance of sustaining the “integrity” of neighbourhoods, the place classic houses with intangible historic reminiscences will not be changed by new ones out of context with the realm.

“I don’t fault anybody for not understanding this from the get-go,” he stated. “There was nothing evil within the intent with their plans. I put it all the way down to miscommunication.”

Oakie stated the couple could have been “ostracized” by neighbours if the brand new construct had gone forward.

“I’ve seen it occur,” he stated. “Or would a dialogue (beforehand) have been higher?”

VanderBeek added that “considerations have been expressed” the earlier house owners of 208 Melville had accepted a diminished supply for the home from the brand new house owners “on the idea that they believed the home wouldn’t be demolished.”

When the couple bid on the house, Fellman wrote a letter to the vendor that learn: “We perceive the need to be ok with passing on a beloved property to a household that can honour what it has meant to you,” including how excited they have been to lift their three-year-old and six-month-old there, and “look ahead to the potential of dwelling at 208 Melville amongst your tulips and daffodils.”

“I informed him we wished to lift our household there, I by no means stated inside these precise 4 partitions,” she informed The Spec. “I didn’t vow we wouldn’t tear it down.”

Fellman stated that as an indication of respect for the character of the road, they requested no variances from the town for the brand new design, and included Tudor-style arches as a technique to pay homage to the unique residence that additionally featured that contact.

On Thanksgiving Monday, Fellman and Chapple went knocking on doorways, handing out pumpkins and introducing themselves to neighbours — they’ve been dwelling in Toronto since shopping for — and displaying the rendering.

Fellman stated one neighbour opined that the design was “ugly,” whereas others have been complimentary.

One possibility Tanner stated he raised at a gathering final week with VanderBeek and metropolis planning employees was conducting a personal heritage stock instantly on 208 Melville alone (he stated it might price $8,000 to $10,000), and submit the findings to the town for evaluation.

He stated following that, the newly elected metropolis council might vote on amending the interim bylaw earlier than 12 months’s finish to maybe give Fellman and Chapple the inexperienced gentle to construct.

Heritage inventories of houses on Melville Road have been performed prior to now — a 1994 Dundas LACAC survey, and a 2017 city-wide stock of pre-Confederation buildings — and 208 Melville was not recognized as a heritage property in both course of.

The petition opposing demolition famous the significance of “property rights of particular person owners,” however added that “we search to steadiness these rights with our collective duty to keep up the character of our neighbourhoods.”

Fellman stated they perceive neighbours “have heartfelt feelings in what we’re doing however we selected a tasteful design, and adopted the whole lot the town requested us to do … I don’t have to love what somebody is carrying, or the way you backyard; it’s a free nation and it’s about you doing you whereas displaying respect for others.”

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