The Town of Innisfil’s heritage committee is frustrated and asking developers to step up maintenance and monitoring at rural sites purchased for residential development projects.
“The issues that the heritage committee has is with the developers who buy heritage properties and leave them unattended, free for the public to loot and abuse,” said Councillor Carolyn Payne.
“Windows are smashed, doors torn off their hinges, inside walls smashed as well as the whole home vandalized.
Hindle Manor — originally known as ‘Ravenscraig’ — located in the village of Cookstown has been vacant and deteriorating since a developer purchased the property for a proposed condominium development.
The town plans to designate the historic home as a heritage site. It is located at 34 King St. S. and built circa 1868 in the Gothic Revival style by Christopher Cook.
“These were beautiful homes that could be revitalized and livable by someone looking to rent,” Payne said. However, “the property is usually used as a dumping ground by people who are too lazy to use the municipal dumps.”
Garbage, wood, gravel . . . “pretty much everything you can think of is dumped on these properties.”
Draft-plan approval for the Cookstown development requires the owner to enter into a heritage preservation agreement with the town, which will include an assessment of the home’s heritage attributes, and the designation of the building under the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA).
In a recent meeting, the Innisfil heritage committee asked town council to direct town staff to take “all necessary interim measures to protect and preserve the property,” including monitoring and regular inspections “to ensure that the property does not further degrade.”
The committee’s recommendations were adopted by council on June 3.
“We have a problem with the properties bought by developers,” said Payne. “They’re being left to deteriorate.”
She noted that farmhouses dating back to the 19th century are being abandoned to vandalism.
“If you don’t want people there, put up a fence, put up a gate. It’s a disgusting mess,” Payne added. “I would really like developers to know they have an obligation, even if no one is living there.”
She asked for the town’s property standards officials to step in.
Another heritage home in the town, located at 1326 Innisfil Beach Rd., was moved off its foundation several years ago and has been sitting on steel beams, waiting for a proposed townhouse development to proceed.
“It’s beginning to be an eyesore,” Deputy Mayor Dan Davidson said at the June 3 council meeting.