Town of Milton continues exploring options for future use of Willmott Farmhouse

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Published September 30, 2022 at 12:23 pm

The Town of Milton continues exploring options for the future use of the Willmott Farmhouse.

The heritage building, which is adjacent to the Milton Sports Centre, is a Town-owned property with historical and architectural significance.

The Farmhouse was once owned by a prominent pioneer family in the Town of Milton, the same one which owned the Willmott Farmstead in Sunny Mount Park.

Back in 2013, the Willmott House was included in a town-wide Heritage Properties Business Strategy (HPBS) which presented various potential use options for the building. While the building does have local cultural heritage value, the property is not designated under the provisions of the Ontario Heritage Act (OHA).

Since then, staff have sought out other options for its use that would retain the heritage elements of the property while simultaneously balancing costs.

In 2019 the property was identified as a surplus to requirements and in 2020, staff entered into a formal Request For Information (RFI) process in an attempt to find someone willing to acquire the building at no cost and move it to another site in Milton for renovation, servicing and preservation.

The process, however, did not generate any interest despite engagement with the development community.

Since the property has suffered damage on various occasions as a result of trespass and vandalism, staff continue to perform ongoing assessments of building security to reduce the risk of further damage.

ERA Architects have provided several conservation strategies which include its stabilization and adaptive reuse, servicing, relocation and demolition.

As servicing and relocation were found to be unfeasible, it left the remaining option for consideration to be stabilization and adaptive reuse. This option would see stabilizing and securing the original portion of the house, the demolition of the rear addition of the outdoor pavilion, the demolition of the two outbuildings and the removal of the septic system.

However, given the degree of trespass and vandalism incurred to the building, council remains concerned about future vandalism to the property until the site becomes a location of ongoing functional use.

As a result, staff have recommended a modification to the stabilization and adaptive reuse option recommended by ERA that includes staff being directed to dismantle the original building, with each element carefully being assessed for residual heritage value. Additionally, staff recommends that all salvageable materials be stored for incorporation into a future use project on the existing site of the Willmott House.

The staff-recommended approach currently has an estimated cost of $200,000.

Should the recommendations be approved, staff expect to proceed with the next steps in relation to the Willmott House this year.

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