Home owner deserves more options
to move the house or to knock it down?
these are the only options given to 75-year-old london resident Nan Finlayson regarding the future of her 121-year-old heritage home.
the City of london has seen its fair share of battles between the heritage council and the planning and development department, but this isn’t just another story about the constant strife between the two.
this is a story about the City of london bullying one of its senior residents out of her home at 100 stanley st. because it threatens a $39-million road widening and rail bridge repair on adjacent Wharncliffe road.
It’s great living in a city that values culture and history and has a council that fights to preserve and advocate for such treasured institutions. It’s also great living in a city that takes initiative to invest in its future and promote progression and economic development. But it would also be great living in a city that valued and respected the rights and property of its citizens.
“sometimes the right decision is not the popular decision,” then london deputy mayor Paul Hubert said in a Feb. 1 london Free Press article that said the city was offering to move Finlayson’s house to clear the way for the bridge and road work.
But is it really the right decision when the only two options given to Finlayson were to either move her home or knock it down? It seems rather than options, Finlayson was given an ultimatum.
the planning and development section of the city’s website claims the city aims to help “improve the overall quality of life for londoners.” It appears this pledge applies only if people don’t get in the city’s way.
Community members banded together in support of Finlayson and created a petition that garnered more than 6,100 signatures in effort to save her longtime home. It seems, however, the voice and pleas of the people are not enough. to the disappointment of Finlayson and her supporters, the decision has been made to relocate her home to the vacant lot across the street.
this vacant lot was once home to the st. Clare and st. Francis houses run by sister Dolores Brisson, a vivacious and prominent member of the community who for more than 30 years provided shelter and family to those without either. In 2015, two years after Brisson moved into a retirement home, the heritage houses were demolished to facilitate the widening of Wharncliffe. the fact that the city now plans to move Finlayson’s home to this lot is more than a little ironic.
Ultimately, the City of london is damaging not only historically significant infrastructure, but also the spirit of strong and vibrant community members who weave the social fabric of what makes our city unique.
It is crucial that the new city council use its voice to protect london’s dwindling architectural heritage, and the people who care for it.
Nan Finlayson is fighting a decision by the city to either demolish or move her heritage home at 100 Stanley St. to widen Wharncliffe Road.