Battle over heritage designation of century-old Oshawa school headed to Ontario Land Tribunal

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Published May 27, 2024 at 3:28 pm

oshawa historic school

Oshawa plans to maintain the heritage importance of the century-old former Harmony Public School all the way to the Ontario Land Tribunal, despite objections from the property owner who want to tear it down for its proposed development.

The City designated the school building, which was built between 1923 and 1924 and has a history as a school site dating back to 1871, last November. The decision received an objection from property owner Colony Real Estate, which claims the designation may “impact its ability to achieve the form and scale of redevelopment envisioned,” adding that a heritage designation would be “incompatible” with the redevelopment.

Colony Real Estate, through Toronto legal firm Overland LLP, also disputes the historical claims of the building, citing the city’s own historical report which notes the building at 149 Harmony Rd. S. “does not display a high degree of craftmanship or artistic value.”

Harmony Road School, according to the report, is an example of the Classic Revival style, complete with a Greek Doric portico entranceway, and was one of eight schools in existence when Oshawa became a city in 1924.

A Cultural Heritage Evaluation and Options Analysis from Golder Associates determined the building can be partially demolished (the north single-storey wing and the later 1957 addition) and compatibly incorporated into the proposed development without substantially losing its integrity or cultural heritage significance.

The owners of the building and the five-acre site were not satisfied with that and have been demanding the right to demolish the building since 2019.

The school closed in 2011 with students now attending the newly built Clara Hughes Public School nearby.

The City of Oshawa will seek party status at the Ontario Land Tribunal hearing and will attend the hearing, along a historical consultant.

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