The following is the text from one delegate’s representation to council last night, Ms. April Dickin, regarding the Wilson Farm Park farmhouse. It’s worth a read.
Madam Mayor Farbridge and Councillors of the City of Guelph:
Thank you very much for providing this opportunity for me to publicly share my opinion on the highly debated issue of the Wilson Farmhouse. Also, a special thank you to Mayor Farbridge for supporting the decision to demolish the farmhouse.
My husband, daughter and I moved to Guelph in April 2012 and added our son Benjamin in August 2012. We watched the process of the Wilson Park being built and have enjoyed the playground and grounds often. We enjoy the large walnut trees as they provide ample shade for picnics on the warmer days and walnut hunting in the cooler days. I have brought a picture of our family enjoying the walnut trees and grounds by the Wilson farmhouse.
I do not specifically align with the Northern Heights group and believe that I can make a best-educated and reasonable opinion on the matter. I do believe it was unfair and unprofessional that a previous delegate has alleged Mr. Lackowicz to be a bully. I have personally found him to be supportive in providing information about Northern Heights and the farmhouse. While he may be passionate, I cannot see reason to allege him to be a bully and detract from our purpose of finding a resolution to the Wilson Farmhouse.
We are concerned citizens within the Northern Heights neighbourhood, we have been following the matter of the Farmhouse building and watching it degrade over the 17 months that we have been here. I appreciate that the City of Guelph acknowledges their neglect with a number of procedures for the Wilson Farmhouse over the course of a decade. I also appreciate the City’s movement to create change and move forward in the best method possible.
I do not support severing and selling the Wilson Farmhouse property for a few reasons. The initial plan for this land supported keeping it whole for all to enjoy. There are many beautiful trees on this land and if the Farmhouse is severed and sold, there are limited means to control what the buyer will do with the property or the trees.
If I were the Wilson family who left the property to the citizens and City of Guelph I would be quite unimpressed with the decayed state of the home as it stands from over 12 years of neglect. From the information provided from an assessor through Northern Heights Neighbourhood group, it appears to me that the neglect of the Farmhouse has decayed the heritage elements of the home and there is little to preserve. Based on assessments previously stated by other delegates, the home would cost in excess of $500,000 to repair to ensure the home is not further decaying and I would not want to pay (through taxes) that cost for a home that is not contributing in any active way (or much in the way of heritage) to the community. Especially considering that if the Farmhouse had been managed in accordance with proper procedures, the preservation cost would have been a small fraction of what it is today.
It is important to me that we protect parkland as an asset in our City. With continued urban sprawl, the City of Guelph needs to ensure we maintain our collective desire to live amongst easily accessible green spaces. The proximity to green areas is part of the reason why our family chose to live in the Northern Heights region of Guelph. I recently took part in the Adopt-A-Tree program through the City. The Wilson Farmhouse property has many beautiful established walnut trees that should be protected and enjoyed by all.
I believe the most cost-effective and respectful method of honouring the Wilson Farmstead would be to preserve any heritage elements that may still be remaining after decay, demolish the Farmhouse, create a plaque or miniature scale model of the home, and incorporate the Farmhouse area within the park. The City should take heed from this experience and place preservation efforts into other heritage homes that currently exist and are within reason to maintain.
Unfortunately, my husband and young children could not attend this evening but we all hope that Mayor Farbridge and Council will support demolition of the farmhouse and preservation of any heritage elements while honouring the Wilson Farmhouse with a plaque or something of the like and incorporate the space in the park.
Sincerely, April Dickin and family