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Robert McLaughlin House could become a designated heritage property

By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter

The famous Robert McLaughlin House could become a designated heritage property.

Councillor Jane Hurst, council’s representative on the Oshawa Heritage Advisory Committee, told members of the Development Services Committee Monday that the demonstration of support for heritage, especially with respect to the longstanding reputation and investment in Oshawa by the McLaughlin family, “isn’t going unnoticed.”

“This is an investment in recognition and celebration of great things that happened in Oshawa over the past 100 years,” she says.

The Oshawa Heritage Advisory Committee brought the recommendation forward after the original motion to demolish the building was defeated by council in February 2021. The report was sent back to the Oshawa Heritage Advisory Committee for further review.

Former Oshawa councillor and heritage advocate Louise Parkes, one of the delegates to speak at Monday’s meeting, says it takes “perseverance, creativity, and a little bit of horse trading” to save built and natural heritage.

“Once these are gone, they’re gone,” she says. “Built heritage or natural heritage sites…they’re gone forever. They can’t be recreated.”

Parkes notes designating the McLaughlin house, at 195 Simcoe St. N., not only holds significance to Oshawa’s history, but could also help celebrate the return of GM in 2022, as well as Oshawa’s upcoming centennial in 2024.

Councillor Rick Kerr says he’s always thought of the McLaughlin house as a “very great looking, significant property.”

“It’s a beautiful house, and when you get a property like that, I think every effort should be made to find an adaptive reuse, to keep it, to keep that look of history that people see in our city and recognize what our past has been,” he says.

Kerr says he’d like to see processes in place that will allow the city to act sooner on properties such as this so that they can be preserved until such time that potential for adaptive reuse becomes available, or a change in ownership and refurbishment takes place.

“We’ve heard it said that once properties have gone, they are gone,” he continues. “I just hope someone with a vision can come along with an adaptive reuse and restore this property to a useful contribution to our community, and one that is not only useful but looks terrific as well.”

Growing up in Oshawa, Councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri, Chair of the Development Services Committee, says he remembers this property quite well as it served as a doctor’s office when he was younger.

“I remember and recall the interior of the building quite well, but the exterior is what people see when they drive by and it is unfortunate that it’s not in the state that we would all appreciate it to be,” he says, adding a lot of work was done to bring this issue to light.

Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter, who brought the motion forward, shared his appreciation for both staff as well as the community for their passion and commitment to the project.

“Many times politicians are accused of being deaf in regards to the public’s voice,” he says. “I’ve always said, “Your voice does matter. And in this circumstance, it was well demonstrated that the voice of the community really believe that this house played a significant role, not only in the history, but about the opportunity that could be in front of us.”