A New Home for the Bradley Craig Barn

A New Home for the Bradley Craig Barn

Councillor Qadri Update

January 27, 2016

 

Introduction

I would like to thank everyone who has shared their thoughts on the proposal to relocate the Bradley Craig Barn on Hazeldean Road to Saunders Farm in Munster.

The Bradley Craig barn is part of the Bradley Craig farmstead, a property consisting of the large dairy barn, a Gothic Revival style brick farmhouse and the associated farm yard. The property is located at 590 Hazeldean Road between Terry Fox Drive and Iber Road.  The property owner submitted an application to demolish the Bradley/Craig Barn and reconstruct it approximately 20 kilometres away at Saunders Farm.

This week the Planning Committee and City Council approved the relocation of the Bradley Craig Barn to Saunders Farm.  Council provided approval to the motion I put forward which included a number of conditions associated with the move.

There have been many discussions at City Hall and in the community regarding the proposal to move the barn.  I want to take the opportunity to tell you why I support a new home for the barn at Saunders Farm.  The decision on my part was not taken lightly but through reviewing all the factors I felt it was the best approach to preserve and bring back the life to the Bradley Craig Barn.

 

Richcraft Homes will not Re-Purpose the Barn

Throughout the many discussions with Richcraft Homes it has been made very clear that they are not interested in pursuing a re-use or adaptation of the barn on their property.

Richcraft has noted that an adaptive re-use is cost prohibitive and is not conducive to their business model.  They have further noted that many of the suggested re-uses are not viable businesses for adaptive re-use in a Mixed-Use Centre which is the zoning intention of the site as outlined in the Fernbank Community Design Plan (CDP).

There exists no legal mechanism in which the City can force the developer to undertake any adaptive re-use of the barn.  In addition, the City does not have the funds or mandate to assist in such a large project.  There is a limited City grant that can be applied for which is limited to a maximum of $5000 and the City is not aware of any other grants that could assist such a project.


The work associated to re-purpose this barn into a usable all-season space would be a very large financial investment and would also greatly alter the interior of the barn.  As this is a heritage property the City’s Property Standards By-law can be enforced to require basic repairs and maintenance but this is very limited in nature.

The Fernbank CDP does note the potential to move the barn within the community.  Richcraft did approach the City to accept the barn in the future District Park in the community, however given the risks and the large costs associated with the project the City declined the offer.

Richcraft Homes is however willing to re-purpose the heritage farmhouse as they do feel an adaptive re-use is realistic and see potential to adapt this building for future business tenants.    If the barn was to remain on Hazeldean Road it would remain as it stands as today, as the option to re-use the barn onsite is not possible without commitment from the landowner.

 

The Planned Future Landscape of the Area

A number of suggested uses have been put forward with examples of existing re-purposed barns in North America.  Many of the suggestions are barns that have been adapted for re-use in the rural settings with private partners willing to make a large financial investment on the properties to preserve and re-use the barns.

It is important to note that the lands on Hazeldean Road are designated for Mixed Use urban development as set out in the Fernbank CDP, the Official Plan and the Provincial Policy Statement.  The Official Plan clearly identifies this area of land for future urban growth and not for agricultural purposes.  This direction was based on the decision from 2005 when the Provincial Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) allowed appeals to designate these lands between Stittsville and Kanata as urban.

Hazeldean Road is designated as an Arterial Main Street, and the policies in the City’s Official Plan direct that development here will support compatible development with a gradual transformation to a more compact, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented pattern of development where building heights up to eight storeys, can be achieved.

While we may not see buildings up to eight storeys in the very near future there is the potential we could see some low-mid level apartment buildings over the next decades.   With the close proximity to the planned Rapid Transit Corridor and the widening of Hazeldean to 6 lanes as identified in the Transportation Master Plan it is anticipated this will increase demand for greater density of housing in this area.

The following image illustrates the potential development in 50 years of the Grant Plaza located on the north side of Hazeldean Road directly across the street from the from the barn property.

The City’s Urban Design Guidelines for Arterial Mainstreets encourage the establishment of a strong street edge by bringing commercial development forward to the street edge and transitioning the scale and density from arterial roads to lower density neighbourhoods.

Richcraft has provided the following image which depicts the potential location of retail buildings on the site which will reduce the sightlines of the barn from the street.

Therefore it can be seen that the future development of the site will diminish the ‘landmark’ significance of the barn as the completed commercial development of the site will greatly reduce the sightlines and provide a very limited view of the barn from Hazeldean Road.

Instead of applying for a complete demolition of the barn, Richcraft has made arrangements to find a suitable new location for the barn, and have sought a partner who is willing to restore the barn to its original state.

 

A Willing Partner to Bring Life to the Barn

When I was approached with the suggestion to move the barn to Saunders Farm I thought this was an opportunity for a new home for this barn where it could be refurbished and could reflect the life that it once had and also be enjoyed by residents.

Through discussions with the property owner it became clear that the only option available to see the barn retrofitted and brought back to its full potential was to relocate it to Saunders Farm.  I also spoke with long standing residents of the Stittsville and Goulbourn community who also shared they too felt there was merit in providing a new home for the barn at Saunders Farm.

Moving the barn to Saunders Farm is bringing it to a family oriented Agri-tourism location where it will be located in proximity to other heritage buildings and will complement the area in representing Goulbourn history.  While this site is not located in Stittsville it is important to remember that both Stittsville and Munster are rooted together in the history of Goulbourn Township.  In addition to their family oriented summer and fall activities they also remain active farmers and support the local farming industry.

Mark Saunders of Saunders Farm has advised it is their intention to bring life back to the building and also allow the building to be enjoyed by residents.  Their family has travelled throughout North America and the United Kingdom seeking inspiration and have seen dozens of barn restorations.  Similarly they too are a location that others seek as inspiration as they have re-built and restored 11 heritage farm buildings on their property.  This family has the knowledge and passion to restore this barn and give it a new life.

Examples of restoration projects undertaken at Saunders Farm

Discovery Barn: Before and After

 

Log Barn: Before and After

 

The history of Saunders speaks for itself; they understand farming as they have been doing it for over 150 years, longer than the Bradley Craig Barn has been standing.

Saunders Farms has over 100,000 guests annually to their site including school field trips and their farm summer camp. They provide an opportunity for educators and the public to discuss the historical nature of the site and the buildings.  As the barn stands today on Hazeldean Road there is no public access to the site and given that Richcraft would not re-purpose the barn it would remain inaccessible to the public.

At Planning Committee, Mark Saunders noted they may  use the barn for farm/local vendor sales, summer farm camp and they would like to have an educational aspect of farming in the 1800s.  He also noted they would need to undertake work to ensure the building is up to Building Code Standards and completely accessible.

I feel that for a heritage building to be successfully restored there is a necessity to have a willing partner with a passion for the project and the Saunders Family has proven they can highlight heritage buildings on their property.

 

Conclusion

As a supporter of heritage buildings I did ensure that I reviewed all the factors before deciding to support the move of the barn.  I also ensured that I heard from the community and I received a mix of comments from residents in Stittsville and the greater City of Ottawa.

My first choice as also expressed by a number of residents would have been to see it re-purposed on Hazeldean Road; however this is not possible without a willing partner.  While some oppose the move I did also have conversations with community members who agreed that moving the barn has merit and would allow the barn to become a restored and used heritage building with public access in a farming context.

At the City Hall meetings Councillors contemplated when a landmark loses its status.  Is it better to have a building that is adaptively reused but out of context or a building that is moved from original location but to its context in a setting with a similar use of the building.

In the end we were only presented with two options; either leave the barn as it currently stands un-used and eventually over-shadowed by development or relocate to a site where there is a willing partner who wants to bring life back to the barn and allow the public to also share in its beauty.

 

A Few Frequently Asked Questions

 

If Richcraft is willing to spend money to move the barn could they not use that money to find an adaptive re-use for the barn on their property?

There would be a much greater cost to convert the barn into an adaptive commercial retail use.  If barn was converted to retail use, the inside of the building would require major alterations which would also diminish the view of the interior structure of the barn. A retail/commercial use would be required to be winterized, whereas Saunders Farm is 3 season operation so many of the barn features will be exposed inside.

 

Why does City Council need to approve the move now?  Could you not wait until a later date when the retail development is constructed?

Council was required to consider this application because the landowner has submitted the application.  It is important for the move to be done now because if the barn sits there for more years it may further deteriorate.  There is also a willing partner at this time to provide a home for the barn now.  Saunders Farm has a plan for the barn but they also said they receive 4-5 offers a year from people wanting them to take farming structures from them.  The opportunity to move to Saunders may not still be possible years down the road.

 

Will the public have to pay admission fees for entrance into the barn?

No, there will be no admission fee to see and enter the Bradley Craig barn on Saunders farm.   The barn is planned to be placed at the front of their property adjacent to the parking lot where it will be outside any admission areas.  The public will have access to see, visit, touch and enjoy the Bradley Craig Barn on Saunders Farm.

 

How does this decision affect other designated heritage properties in the City?  Does this set a precedent that developers can just relocate these buildings?

This barn is a very unique situation as there are no other heritage designated barns in the suburban or rural area of the City of Ottawa.  The Booth Barn at the Central Experimental Farm is the only barn designated by the former City of Ottawa.

There are many heritage houses that are designated and I do not feel this decision affects the status of these homes as they have a greater potential for adaptive re-use.  These houses can more easily be converted to other uses such as the spas and restaurants we have in the west end.  However there is still extensive work that can be involved to restore and renovate these homes to ensure they follow the City’s Building Code and are accessible.

The motion that I put forward approved by City Council does ensure that the Bradley Craig Farmhouse will remain a heritage designated property at the current site.

The use of heritage buildings on Saunders Farm does have some comparison to the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum.  Councillor Blais noted at Planning Committee that one of the main buildings at Cumberland Village is the old Vars Train Station which in fact was moved 22km from its original site to its current location at Cumberland Village.

I do feel strongly that heritage is important, and I have supported the heritage houses in Stittsville and also ensured that heritage features were outlined in the recent Stittsville Main Street Community Design Plan (CDP).