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'I thought it was a joke': Ontario woman told to reverse changes to heritage home


An Ontario woman said she didn’t know her home was in a heritage district in Markham when she rebuilt it after it burned down in February of 2020.

“I thought it was a joke. I mean they think that 1996 is a heritage home? Because that’s when the house was built,” Heather Bracey explained.

Bracey said she had been renovating the home when there was a serious fire that caused her to have to rebuild the house and renovate it from the ground up.

“I've done three years of extensive renovations with all top-quality products, custom doors, custom everything,” Bracey said.

While rebuilding her house, she decided to give it a fresh new look different from her neighbours and said she had no idea she was in one of Markham’s four designated heritage zones and any changes would have to be pre-approved by the city.

Heather Bracy said she didn’t know her home was in a heritage district in Markham when she rebuilt it after it burned down in February of 2020.

After her home was completed, Bracey got a “Direction to Comply” notice from the City of Markham that said: “The roofing selection, windows specifications, garage door selection and brick selection is to be reviewed and approved by the City (Heritage Section) staff through the heritage permitting process prior to ordering and installation.”

Bracey said she is being told she must now change her home so that it complies with heritage guidelines and she is frustrated and stressed by the whole process.

“The front door has to be replaced, the garage door and the windows and the veneer, the brick veneer all over the entire house,” she said.

Bracey said she has no idea how much the changes will cost and feels the city should have done more to let her know she was in a heritage zone before she completed the rebuild.

"I feel the city should have made an effort to make me aware before the house was built, before the bricks were put on or when I picked windows," said Bracey.

When CTV News Toronto reached out to the City of Markham a spokesperson said, “The City of Markham highly values its heritage districts and ensures that residents are aware of the obligations related to properties within the heritage districts to ensure ongoing preservation.”

“The City of Markham has worked closely with the owner following the unfortunate fire that destroyed the original home. City of Markham staff made every effort to expedite the building permit to ensure that the owner had a safe place to live.”

“In doing so, it was made clear on the approved building permit drawings that heritage requirements also needed to be met to obtain a heritage permit. This includes addressing items such as the roofing selection, window specifications, garage door selection, and brick selection prior to ordering and installation.”

“Failure to recognize these requirements is an issue between the owner and his or her consultant. The City of Markham sympathizes with the owner and continues to work towards achieving a reasonable outcome that respects the heritage nature of the area.”

Bracey said Markham should allow her to leave her home the way it is or pay for the modifications required.

”They can do it themselves. Put whatever windows they want in it. Put whatever doors they want in it and take the bricks off and put whatever colour they want," Bracey said.

A "century home" is at least 100 years old, but a house can be designated a "heritage home" for any number of reasons. If you buy one it means you may not be able to change its appearance or add onto it without permission from the municipality you live in. Top Stories

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