“Not only does this generate more revenue for the city, it also provides a more affordable option for the public,” suggests the city planner
The Petch House, one of the oldest residential buildings in Aurora, has been standing still almost eight years ago since its restoration and reconstruction behind the Aurora Seniors’ Center.
From a tourism center to a simple storage room, there has been no shortage of ideas on what to do with the building, but one previously pending idea is regaining importance: a wedding chapel.
“Since the city took ownership of the hut, it has remained empty until a new use could be determined,” said Carlson Tsang, Aurora city planner, in a memo to this month’s Heritage Advisory Committee (HAC) meeting.
The council asked staff to consider the feasibility and cost of converting the log home into a wedding chapel for community-run wedding services, which are normally carried out in council chambers.
“The buildings department says it would be possible to convert the building into a wedding chapel as it currently exists without upgrading on a conditional seasonal basis,” said Tsang. “If the building is used for wedding ceremonies all year round, it must be equipped with electrical equipment and an HVAC system to meet the requirements of the Ontario Building Code. These recommendations were communicated to the council … and the council postponed the point and asked staff to seek comments from the HAC before making a final decision. “
HAC’s first crack in relation to the wedding chapel option raised questions about what impact the interior could have if air conditioning was installed in the historic building, whether the chapel would require a washroom facility, what effect this would have on parking at Aurora Seniors’ Center has and costs.
Work to date has shown that HVAC is only required if the wedding ceremonies are held year round. that the average attendance at a community wedding is about five people and would have minimal impact on parking; and that a washroom facility would not be required if weddings were held during normal town hall business hours.
Electric light to equip the facility would cost approximately $ 15,740 and HVAC would cost $ 20,987.
“The city is currently working with the Canadian Food and Wine Institute to develop a joint wedding program that will use the armory building as an alternative location for wedding ceremonies,” said Tsang. “The program is expected to start in April 2021. Armory building service fee starts from $ 1,000, including food, decor, and photography. However, this program was developed on a cost recovery model where the city would only get back an official fee of $ 125 per service.
“If the Petch House can be used as a wedding chapel, the city can charge the regular fee of $ 500 per service, which is $ 375 or 75 percent more than the joint program with CFWI. Not only does this bring more revenue to the city, but it also provides a more affordable option for the public. Since the Petch House is easier to book than the Council Chamber, the city could increase the frequency of its services to meet increasing demand.
At the last HAC meeting, some of the concerns raised above remained.
“Petch House has been a matter of council deliberation for at least 15 years, maybe longer,” said former Alderman Bob McRoberts, a longtime HAC member. “If there is no washroom, people should be accompanied to the town hall. In my opinion, it’s quite a distance if someone has to go to the washroom, especially if it’s a teenager. Perhaps another option would be to impose the senior center washroom. “
However, Neil Asselin, member of the committee, questioned the cost of a wedding chapel as the next chapter in Petch House’s history.
“I would hate to put more money in a money pit,” he said, noting additional costs required under the Ontario Building Code.
Brock Weir is a federally funded reporter for the Local Journalism Initiative at The Auroran