The owner of Fairbank House is taking to social media to convince Petrolians he’s putting a lot of effort into maintaining the iconic home and he’s not about to stop.
David Burnie has created a video on YouTube to show some of the structural work that has been done to insure the home stands the test of time.
He has faced criticism for the condition of the home built by John Henry Fairbank one of the key drivers of the oil industry in the region. The Burnie family has owned the home since 1967. Though Burnie lives in Michigan, he wants to construct an apartment building on the land.
This has caused local historians concern saying the mansion has not been maintained and a new apartment won’t help. Almost 2,100 people signed a petition calling on the Town of Petrolia to stop the apartment project.
The apartment complex cleared its first hurdle. The town’s committee of adjustment agreed that two buildings could be on the site. It also ordered Burnie to submit plans to restore the building at the same time as the apartment is being built.
Before Burnie is able to move ahead, the Ontario Municipal Board will hear an appeal of the decision. It’s set for late July.
In the meantime, the town has decided to move ahead with declaring the home a heritage building – a move Burnie addresses in the 5:04 minute long video. “This house is not going anywhere. A (heritage) designation of any building, should, at best, be considered if and only if there is truly an imminent possibility of loss, such as demolition.”
Burnie shows some of the items repaired; rebuilding a wall which was destroyed by fire, new electrical work and installing new steel I beams to re-enforce the structure. “This is costly,” says Burnie in the video “and if one was going to demolish the house or let it collapse, who in their right mind would bother with these four I beams?”
“As you have seen (in the video), there has been much work, time, effort and money spent on keeping the building in place and bringing it back to usability.”
Burnie tells The Independent he felt compelled to give some facts “not the miss information and lack of knowledge that has been provided to you by various individuals in the media.”
“People are out there saying things; (like) this house is not being taken care of, and not being repaired. Obviously they don’t know…Technically, it is private property and they shouldn’t have a say this matter; so you should provide some information,” he says.
“There is serious time effort and money going into keeping this property in place.
“It’s not being left to collapse,” he adds in the video “nothing is further from the truth.
And Burnie hopes once people see the effort going into the heritage home, they’ll understand why he’s opposed to the municipality’s effort to have the property designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
And at the end of the video, he appeals to Petrolia residents to write to town officials opposing the move.
“I urge you to support this effort. Call the Town of Petrolia and register your opposition to the negative treatment shown and the rush to force a Heritage Designation on a property owner who is acting in a positive manner to rebuild and support this house.”