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Old Rinderlins building to be used for assisted living

Tony DiMarco

Tony DiMarco

A Welland heritage building that was once home to an upscale restaurant will soon be home to up to 30 people in need of assistance.

City council approved zoning amendments to allow owner Hatem Swais to renovate the Glasgow-Fortier House at 24 Burgar St. into an assisted living facility, where 24-hour care will be provided for residents living there.

The building, constructed in 1859 and designated as historic in 1985, has been empty since Rinderlins restaurant closed about a decade ago.

“I can see no reason why we shouldn’t be supporting this,” said Ward 4 Coun. Tony DiMarco. “It would help out the city immensely.”

The Downtown Business Improvement Area has previously voiced its opposition to using the building as an assisted living facility,  concerned about preserving the building’s history as well as a loss of control of future uses for the building.

City council approved a motion earlier this year to ask the provincial government to regulate assisted living facilities after concerns were raised about another such facility elsewhere in the city.

Several councillors also raised concerns about preserving aspects of the building that have been recognized as historic, such as wooden doors, a fireplace, the exterior and the staircase. 

Ward 2 Coun. Leo Van Vliet said even if a developer is given a nominal fine for removing heritage features, “people just call that the cost of doing business.”

He said he fears that renovating the building to accommodate an assisted living facility would mean it “would no longer be a heritage building.”

“It’s probably one of very few really unique heritage buildings in this town,” Van Vliet said.

City planner Grant Munday, however, pointed out that if council voted against the proposal, and it was appealed at the Ontario Municipal Board, he could be subpoenaed by the developer to testify against the city.

Ward 3 Coun. John Chiocchio said the developer is ready to invest “and wants to pay taxes, and we’re kind of holding him back from doing what he wants to do.”

“I’m definitely against that … It’s ridiculous.”

Although Ward 1 Coun. Mark Carl said he understands concerns about the project, “I don’t think the answer is to let the building sit there longer.”

“Vacant buildings aren’t a good thing to have around,” Carl said.

ABenner@postmedia.com


 

Recorded vote

For: Campion, Carl, Grimaldi, John Chiocchio, Pat Chiocchio, DiMarco, Petrachenko

Against: Fokkens, Van Vliet, Larouche and McLeod



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