Tribunal Overturns Council Decision to Protect Rockcliffe Park heritage home from Demolition

270 Buchan Road | Photo: City of Ottawa

Thursday, May 2, 2019


On April 29, 2019, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) – the regulatory body created to replace the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) – ordered the City of Ottawa to issue a permit for demolition and new construction at 270 Buchan Road, a Grade 1 property located in the Rockcliffe Park Heritage Conservation District (HCD).  The ruling overturns City Council’s May 2017 decision to deny demolition of the house.

The property owner, Richcraft Homes, who wants to build a larger residence on the site, appealed City’s Council’s decision to what was then the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). 

City Council’s rejection of the application for demolition and new construction followed the recommendations of city staff and the Built Heritage Sub-Committee, and upheld the terms of the updated Rockcliffe HCD Plan which the community strongly supported and Council had approved unanimously only one year before.

The updated Rockcliffe HCD Plan states that demolition of Grade 1 buildings are to be permitted only in extraordinary circumstances such as fire, flood or other disasters.

Heritage Ottawa adamantly opposed the demolition of 270 Buchan Road given an absence of extraordinary circumstances and lack of justification for demolition of a grade 1 building in a designated Heritage Conservation District.

Richcraft also appealed the updated Rockcliffe HCD Plan to the then OMB, which was subsequently replaced by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).  The Tribunal, consisting of adjudicator Michel Bellemare, upheld the updated Rockcliffe HCD Plan but overturned City Council's decision regarding 270 Buchan, directing the City to issue a permit for demolition and new construction in accordance with the appellant's site plan of May 2017.

Factoring into the Tribunal's decision were concerns for property scoring accuracy, and a Cultural Heritage Impact Statement commissioned by the appellant which claimed the existing house to be of "little significance". Although the property's original score of 80/100 has been lowered to 69/100 after review, the lower score still exceeded the 50/100 threshold for protection of Grade 1 homes. During the hearing Richcraft's heritage consultant, Christopher Borgal, scored the house between 38 and 40/100, but did not elaborate on how that score was arrived at.

Both Richcraft and the City of Ottawa have the right to appeal the Tribunal's decision to the courts.


Related Reading:

Appeal Tribunal Allows Demolition of Rockcliffe Park Home | Ottawa Citizen, May 2, 2019

Ottawa's Designated Heritage At Risk | Heritage Ottawa, May 21, 2017

In a Close Vote, City Council Says No to Rockcliffe Park Heritage Demo | Ottawa Citizen, May 24, 2017

Analysis: Rockcliffe Home Debate Feeds Fears About Developer's Access to City Hall | CBC News Ottawa, May 29, 2017