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What is Happening with the Brantwood Gates?
reproduced from the Winter 2004 Mainstreeter
by Pierre Johnson with help from Susan MacPhee, Nancy Smith,
Rick Wallace and Heather Moxsley on background and photos
There have been a couple of public meetings during 2003 to discuss the question of how to best save the Brantwood gates. This article is meant, to give you a capsule summary of the meetings and of the plan for going forward. You can expect follow up articles in the future with more details.
The Brantwood Gates are in need of repair. There was a preliminary meeting back on June 26th at the Old Town Hall with city staff where options and issues were first introduced to a few members of the community. We had tried to have a meeting on October 16th but failed to get word out in time and to enough people to make that possible. The next real meeting was on November 20th at Saint Paul University to get more input, from neighbours directly affected. City staff responsible for heritage and property management were there to gather community input on alternatives.
From the meetings here is a summary of the issues as they were presented to us:
- The gates were originally build in 1912 by a developer to promote the Brantwood development. They may not have been built to last. The developer went out of business sometime later.
- The gates became a war memorial in 1948 (partly as a community response to save them).
- The gates have since been officially designated as heritage property of the City of Ottawa.
-The heritage designation recognizes the gates 'as unique architectural
elements in conjunction with where they are. Their role as a gateway to
the community along with the stones and mortar are essential parts of
the heritage designation.
- Some of the masonry has been crumbling and stones have been falling out. This is due to a combination of salt spray, moisture penetration, freezing, and road vibration. When the gates were originally built, Main Street was a two lane road with much much less traffic.
- There is some question about the foundations (one is cracked).
- Patching the stone work will not permanently fix the crumbling problem and it will get worse putting the gates and people at risk.
- The gates could be rebuilt. The existing exterior stones, plaques and decorative caps would be re-used. The interior, which is suspected to be rubble, and the foundations would replaced with modem materials.
- The cost of rebuilding the gates could be very high and well beyond the current city budget for this project. .
- If that large an amount of money is spent, it might be best to move the gates further away from Main Street to protect the investment because proximity to Main is part of the problem, Moving as little as 10 feet down Beckwith would be a good idea to help preserve them. Once they are being rebuild there would be minimal additional cost to moving them.
- They could also be moved to another location in the neighbourhood if people have another preferred location away from the traffic on Main.
- If they move, they may not retain their heritage designation.
At the November 20th meeting the issues and options were discussed with
people from the neighbourhood. Moving the gates even just a little raised
many concerns and fears. Doing nothing or just trying to patch the mortar
wasn't seen as sufficient. The remaining option of having the gates rebuilt
in exactly the same location was the one most people could live with.
With that option in mind, we need to help the city raise sufficient funds
for the project. A few participants at the meeting agreed to start the
process to get this project going. In the coming months you can expect
to hear more about the gates and the fundraising plan. If you'd like to
help save the gates you can contact Pierre Johnson at 234-1151. Stay tuned.
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