Changes for Elgie house, Rumsey Rd.

153 Rumsey Rd.
153 Rumsey Rd.

Updates on 262 Bessborough Dr., Parkhurst Blvd. and a concern about the sudden appearance of a “tower home“ at 153 Rumsey Rd.

The Elgie family home, 262 Bessborough, one of three remaining Leaside settler homes, has now been conditionally sold following a bidding war in January.

The new owners are Renaissance Fine Homes. Matthew Garnet, vice-president of development, addressed the Feb. 6 LPOA directors meeting with their draft proposals, accompanied by representatives from ERA (heritage) Architects.

Garnet told the meeting, that included several residents of Parkhurst whose homes back onto 262 Bessborough, that his company is currently working on a heritage rescue project for John Lyle-designed 7 Austin Terrace in the Casa Loma area.

This property was in the news over a year ago when the previous owner had started to demolish it, but was stopped by the intervention of the city and province.

Having established his heritage credentials, Garnet said Renaissance is proposing to preserve the original Elgie house, but demolish the later additions, moving the original structure forward to enable the severance of two new lots. The company would construct two new houses on either side, but maintain the prominence of the original house by setting back the new houses. It would add to the rear of the original structure.

Moving the house obviously represents a major risk to the property; that was a concern from several neighbours.

Renaissance indicated that the heritage property would be secured by a heritage easement agreement which involves the developer having to set aside funds which would be lost if an accident were to occur. However, unless the house is designated there can be no such protection for the heritage property.

As a result, after the presentation the LPOA directors voted to ask Councillor Parker to intervene to expedite the heritage assessment by city staff.

There were also planning concerns expressed about the mass of the new houses, the number of zoning bylaw variances required, and the lot severances that would be needed. It was also pointed out that the heritage value of the property is not just the house, but also in the landscape features like the circular driveway, the large grassed area and the mature trees, which would be lost as a result of the development.

In the end it was proposed, and Garnet willingly agreed, to present his plans to a future public meeting, which is expected to be planned in conjunction with the councillor’s office for the end of February or early March.

Meanwhile, residents in the Rumsey/McRae/Sharron area have noticed the sudden emergence of a “tower house” just north of McRae on Rumsey.

Many are wondering how this happened and are worried about he threat to the streetscape of Rumsey.

It appears this is the result of a successful appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board, which overturned a decision by the Committee of Adjustment to reject the variance application for the development, which included demolition of the original property.

The LPOA opposed the variances a year ago, and would have expected to be informed about the appeal of the Committee decision.

The LPOA has asked Councillor Parker to investigate how this happened and why there was no representation from the city at the OMB hearing. One would have expected city legal staff to have been present to defend the city’s Committee of Adjustment decision.

For now the street has a house that towers above the general height line, and may represent an unfortunate precedent, inviting more projects that do not fit the street.

Finally, some good news about Parkhurst Blvd. On Jan. 22 North York Community Council passed a resolution for the initiation of a process aimed at obtaining Part V Heritage Conservation District status on Parkhurst.

About Geoff Kettel 222 Articles
Geoff Kettel is a community connector and advocate for “making places better”. He is currently Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, Co-Chair of the Federation of North Toronto Residents‘ Associations (FoNTRA), member of the Toronto Preservation Board and Past Chair of the North York Community Preservation Panel. He writes a monthly column on heritage and planning in Leaside Life.