Ottawa

Heritage estate to make way for infill in Chiarelli's ward

A heritage farmhouse where a Confederation Poet once composed his verses will soon have some new neighbours.

Kilmorie House will remain, but 9 new homes will occupy its grounds after neighbours lose fight

Kilmorie House, seen here in November 2019, was built in the 1840s and was given heritage designation a few years ago. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

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  • Council approved the development in a 14-7 vote on Nov. 27, 2019.
  • College Coun. Rick Chiarelli was absent for the vote.

A heritage farmhouse where a Confederation Poet once composed his verses will soon have some new neighbours.

Kilmorie House will remain standing, but the wooded grounds that surround the property in Ottawa's City View neighbourhood will make way for a crop of new infill houses, the city's planning committee decided Thursday.

For years, residents have fought to prevent development of the 0.8-hectare estate on Withrow Avenue, tucked off Merivale Road.

About a dozen of them made their way to city hall again on Thursday, but the planning committee agreed to allow the property to be subdivided for nine new homes.

Joan Clark, president of the City View Community Association, has been fighting to preserve Kilmorie House for years. (Kate Porter/CBC)

"We didn't get any help from city hall. All we got was opposition. Goliath just took his foot and stepped on David and crushed him," said Joan Clark, president of the City View Community Association, after the meeting.

Clark said her councillor, Rick Chiarelli, had supported the group's efforts in the past, but he has been absent from city hall amid allegations he acted inappropriately toward female staff and job applicants. Chiarelli did not attend Thursday's meeting.

House protected, but not grounds

Kilmorie House was granted heritage designation during the last term of council, despite opposition from the family that owns it.

The stone house, built in the 1840s, was given its name by poet William Wilfred Campbell when he bought it in 1914.

The Kilmorie House property is located a couple of blocks from Merivale Road. A developer intends to build nine homes surrounding the heritage house, and already has approval for four houses facing Withrow Avenue. (Google)

Over the years, nearby residents have raised money to try to buy the property and protect its rare green space, and even talked of turning the house into a cultural centre. But they lost the battle at the tribunal that considers land-use appeals.

Coun. Scott Moffatt, who has been assigned to represent College ward files for Chiarelli, said the community had hit a dead end.

"I think there's opportunities in this area for better park space, and I'm willing to explore that. But it's not at 21 Withrow," Moffatt said.

Joan Clark, president of the City View Community Association, says the fight to save the Kilmorie House estate has been "draining" for the whole community. Residents were at city hall on Thursday to oppose the development. 1:34

'4 years in the making' 

Councillors on the committee were told the house, which hasn't been occupied for two years, will need about $400,000 in repairs before it can be sold.

Joey Theberge, president of Theberge Homes, which owns the property, said he has never seen a formal offer to buy the land. He framed the development as good news for neighbours.

"It's going to improve the community. It's going to improve this heritage home. It's been four years in the making," Theberge said.

He said the company is ready to apply for building permits as soon as the zoning decision receives city council's final approval on Nov. 27 and plans for the site are finalized.

Theberge Homes already has approval for four additional homes fronting onto Withrow Avenue.

Joey Theberge, president of Theberge Homes, said his company wants to build nine new homes and restore the heritage Kilmorie House. Another four would front onto Withrow Avenue. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

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