Please find enclosed e-mail correspondence and a copy of an Ontario Heritage Trust letter from Ms. Donna Moore, a London resident who has concerns regarding the historic Moore House located southeast of St. Thomas in the village of Sparta.
As you are aware, the Moore House was at risk last year after its owners applied to the Municipality of Central Elgin for a demolition permit so that they could construct a new home on the same footprint of the existing heritage structure. Built in 1823, the Moore House is one of the oldest homes in all of southwestern Ontario and there is a great interest within the community to preserve this heritage building.
Your predecessor enacted the 60-day stop order through the Ontario Heritage Act last fall and eventually a compromise between the municipality and the owners was established to preserve part of the structure of the Moore House in a new facility. While the compromise saved part of the heritage nature of the Moore House, many people who either live in the community or have a close personal connection to the site, including Ms. Moore who is a direct descendent of the original home builder, are unhappy that more was not done to preserve the entire existing structure.
Upon receiving a copy of the Honourable Lincoln Alexander’s letter, I have one basic but important question that begs to be answered: why the advice of the Ontario Heritage Trust, advice that your ministry sought in accordance with the Ontario Heritage Act, not followed? The chairperson of the Ontario Heritage Trust could not have been more straightforward in his letter to the previous minister. This marks the third time to my knowledge that the Ministry of Culture has not followed the advice of the Ontario Heritage Trust that recommended immediate designation of a built heritage site as provincially significant. The other two occasions, as you are aware, are the Lister Block in Hamilton and Alma College in St. Thomas. One can imagine what might have come to pass if your ministry chose to follow Mr. Alexander’s advice in Alma College’s case before the tragic fire in May led to its destruction. One can also imagine that a more suitable solution to the Moore House situation would have also resulted if advice from the very entity your ministry is supposed to heed had been followed.
Minister, I would appreciate your revisiting these matters, reviewing further options you have under the Ontario Heritage Act to help preserve built heritage in this province and responding directly to Ms. Moore.
As always, thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
Steve Peters, M.P.P.