By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News
Plans for a large Dundas property that has sat dormant for at least eight years are still unclear after fire destroyed the vacant structure on the site.
A building at 1 Old Ancaster Road, just west of Osler Drive, was destroyed by fire on Sunday, Jan. 20. The entire property – which stretches from Governor’s Road in the north and south along Ogilvie Street nearly as far as South Street West – is registered on title to a company called Sandyford Place Holdings Ltd. It is mostly open space and woods.
According to corporation documents, Sandyford Place Holdings was cancelled as a corporation by the Ministry of Finance’s corporate tax section in 2007. A ministry spokesperson said he could not comment on the cancellation of any corporation, because of taxpayer privacy issues.
Lou Ferro, a Hamilton personal injury lawyer, and Ishbel Ridge, a sales representative for Ancaster Royal Lepage, are the two officers of Sandyford Place Holdings Ltd.
“I have nothing to do with it,” Ridge said last week when contacted by the Dundas Star News, and asked about future plans for the property. She suggested contacting Ferro.
He called the fire a “senseless act of vandalism” and said efforts are focused on working with the city and fire marshal to clean up debris and secure the property.
“The property has been dormant and there are no plans to develop, but it would be in the nature of townhomes,” Ferro stated in an email.
City planning staff were not aware of any development applications for the site.
Ferro stated in his second of two emails to the Dundas Star New that a previous property manager tried to keep vandals out of 1 Old Ancaster and several bylaw issues over the past 13 years related to graffiti and “kids pulling down plywood on the windows and doors.”
City staff said there have been 24 property standards orders issued on 1 Old Ancaster Rd. since 2005. Those orders could have been for a variety of issues ranging from graffiti to long grass. It has been on the city’s vacant buildings list since the registry program started three years ago.
“We know who the owner is and have been in communication with the owner of the property. In 2012, the owner was charged with failure to comply and he pleaded guilty,” said City of Hamilton communications officer Debbie Spence. “We have been in touch with the owner asking that the property be registered as a Vacant Building, but at this time the property has yet to be registered by the owner.”
Ferro stated in an email that the city inspected the building before Christmas “and found it was in compliance.”
Spence confirmed the city’s last scheduled inspection took place on Nov. 1, 2012 and no property standards orders were issued at that time.
“Since the new management came in last fall there has been a constant physical presence that has avoided the issues that plagued the property previously,” Ferro stated in an email.
Hamilton Fire Services spokesperson Claudio Mostacci said 27 firefighters responded to 1 Old Ancaster Rd. shortly after 5 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 20. They were on scene for more than four hours. No cause had been determined.
The City of Hamilton sent a building inspector to the property on Jan. 20 after the fire service notified them the building had been damaged by fire.
The building was determined to be structurally inadequate and hazardous. An order to comply was issued to Sandyford Place Holdings Ltd. to “prevent access to the area around the building damaged by fire.”
Building inspections manager John W. Lane said a fence was erected to the inspector’s satisfaction.
“We are continuing to monitor the property to ensure that the closure remains intact and that it hasn’t been compromised,” Lane said.
Spencer Creek runs through the Sandyford Place Holdings property, and is the only spot where a proposed future trail link would be forced away from the creek’s side to public sidewalks.
“We will need to wait and see what is proposed for that property before we would be able to evaluate opportunities to have the trail along that corridor, rather than have it run along the street,” said City of Hamilton landscape architect Cynthia Graham.