Iconic farmhouse could lose historic character

Residents hope to protect one of Leaside’s oldest homes

The house at 262 Bessborough Dr., better known as Elgie Farmhouse, is one of the original homes in Leaside. But now the house, recently purchased by Renaissance Fine Homes, may be getting a makeover — and some residents aren’t happy.

“You’re taking away history,” said area real estate agent Patrick Rocca, who is opposed to this development. “When you start stripping that away, what is special about that community?”

The house is listed as “heritage,” meaning it will eventually be examined by the city for a potential designation, and owners must provide the city with 60 days notice for demolition. If designated, Toronto City Council has legal recourse to refuse changes with adverse affects to the house’s heritage. Now residents must race against time to ensure the house’s protection.

Renaissance has proposed removing the north and south wings of the house, which were constructed in the 1970s and 1990s, and severing the lot into three smaller lots.

“We are calling for the restoration of the original Elgie house.”

But Matt Garnet, vice-president of development for Renaissance, said that he is being respectful of the heritage apsect of the home. “We are calling for the retention and restoration of the original Elgie house,” said Garnet. “Although the property has not been designated heritage, I and our team would like to treat it as such.”

They have previously won a Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals Award for Best Adaptive Reuse for their redevelopment of the heritage-designated 7 Austin Terr., once owned by Maclean’s magazine founder John B. Maclean.

For some, including Leaside Property Owners Association (LPOA) member Brian Athey, the problem is not the plans for the house, but the lot. “The difficulty we have is the creation of three lots where one exists,” said Athey. “It’s a case of excessive density.” He says that the LPOA will continue to monitor the application and will be participating in discussions with council once a formal application has been submitted.

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