What elements of a ‘Heritage’ property should be prioritized for the sake of preservation – especially an older suburban one? Is it the structure itself? The grounds and setting? The landscaping? Is it the whole package, to be preserved in its entirely or considered “lost”?

The North Shore News reports on a proposal to subdivide an existing Heritage property at 360 Windsor Avenue into two lots. The subdivision would allow the original 1913 structure (shown below on the left) to be kept while selling off the east side of the property for new development.

Screenshot 2016-06-25 06.37.12

The existing structure (left) and possible new structure (right) – North Shore News

The current lot’s owner, Mr. Donato D’imici, claims his options are either to subdivide the property or sell it off entirely to developers, who would then surely demolish the structure and by right put up a 5,900 ft sq building. The subdivision compromise, in his opinion, retains the existing building and is the lesser of two evils.

Of course not everyone agrees, with one neighbour railing against the subdivision as a threat to “imperil” the neighbourhood with density. Likely there was a lot of this apocalyptic kind of talk at the Council hearing. As recently posted in PT, this ‘end is nigh’ sentiment around the topic of density, whether in the form of a townhouse or a carriage house, comes from a place of real and hysterical fear.

Screenshot 2016-06-25 06.42.31.png

The neighbourhood – 360 Windsor on north side, just to the right of centre

Whether your inclination is to dismiss or empathize with this fear, it should still be acknowledged that the suffering is real. But as you can see from this Google aerial, the rest of the neighbours are clearly not burdened by undervalued structures on their overvalued lots. Being right is easy when it’s not your decision to make.

So what’s more important? The building or the lot? Preserving the pastoral feel of a street where it still exists, or retaining that cute little house you couldn’t pay a contractor to build anymore? Is this a reasonable compromise or a terrible precedent?