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Details of proposed 'demolition plan' for Prince of Wales Public School

Developer suggesting 'selective' knock down
2017-10-12 Prince of Wales School
The former Prince of Wales Public School on Bradford Street was built in 1876. Sue Sgambati/BarrieToday

HIP Developments is seeking a permit to 'selectively demolish' parts of the former Prince of Wales Public School but preserve three facades to be incorporated into future parkland. 

Members of council were advised in a Sept. 18 memo that a Demolition Permit application with a letter of intention to selectively demolish building additions at 50 Bradford Street, the former Prince of Wales School, were received on July 26, 2017. 

'The areas to be demolished include the two-storey addition on the west side of the original building; the gymnasium addition, and the vestibule that connects the gymnasium addition to the original school building. These buildings are in poor condition due to lack of maintenance over the years and pose a safety and health risk,' reads the memo from a senior city planner. 

HIP Developments bought the former elementary school and the former Barrie Central High School in 2016 and plans to build 'premier residential rentals' at the site located at the corner of Dunlop Street West and Bradford Street.

The developer intends to protect the outer walls and foundations of the original Prince of Wales building from further deterioration over the coming winter, and will work with City staff to incorporate the south, east and west facades into a future parkland setting as part of proposed development for the subject site and adjacent lands.

The property is listed as a non-designated property on the Municipal Heritage Register (referred to as a listed property). The Ontario Heritage Act requires 60 days notice prior to demolition of buildings on a listed property. This provision is intended to provide Council with additional time to consider and discuss opportunities with the owner to protect, record or document potential heritage attributes of the property in question prior to demolition.

Planning staff attended Heritage Barrie on Sept. 5 to inform them of the intent to selectively demolish parts of the building, describe the extent of the proposed demolition and reasons for the proposed demolition. Heritage Barrie understands the need and desire to selectively demolish, and appreciate the attempt to preserve the facade.

Heritage Barrie indicated a need to advise Council and have also requested to be kept informed through the development review process. HIP has indicated every intention to work with City staff through the development process to incorporate the heritage elements into the development project, the city says. 

'At this time, planning applications for the site have not been received. Typically, a “complete” planning application on a listed property requires a Heritage Impact Assessment, which will provide more detailed information as to the presence and significance of heritage attributes on a property and should include recommendations to protect, mitigate and incorporate any attributes into the overall development,' the memo to Mayor Lehman and councillors reads.

Staff will keep Heritage Barrie and council informed through the development review process. 

In a letter to the building department, HIP Developments Vice President Randy Renouf says the existing building was not maintained prior to their purchase in 2016 and he listed a series of issues. 

The existing roof has leaked for many years with evidence on the second floor ceiling and floor, he said. One classroom's ceiling was totally collapsed, draping down to the floor level.

'We are confident that roof, soffits, floors are damaged with concerns of wall cavity, window sills, and brick mortar experiencing the same problems.  Over the last year there have been additional water leaks in the basement, flooding and evidence of mold."

HIP told the building department it hopes to infill the basement of the existing school with granular material to protect the existing foundation and walls during this winter.

"Our future development plans are to integrate parts of the existing school into a parkland setting.Those parts would be the exterior wall structures," said Ranouf. 

The roof and floors would be proposed to be removed. Walls would be supported by a new shoring structure.

The city has not issued a permit at this time. 

The Prince of Wales Public School was built in 1876 and was the oldest elementary school in the Simcoe County District School Board before it was deemed 'Prohibitive to Repair' and closed in 2011.