The demolition of the residence belonging to the Ugandan Ambassador in Canada sparks controversy and legal action in Ottawa.
The 67-year-old stucco house, situated at 235 Mariposa Avenue and serving as the official residence of the Uganda High Commission, has been torn down without the necessary permit, according to heritage property in the Rockcliffe Park Heritage Conservation District, was included in the city’s heritage watch list for at-risk properties, making the unauthorized demolition a matter of legal concern.
Local city councillor expresses frustration, highlighting a broader pattern of neglect among diplomatic properties.
The Rockcliffe Park Residents’ Association deems the destruction shocking, urging the council to reject an application for a larger residence on the site.
The city alleges three violations of the building code act from late October and an additional failure to comply with an order from late November or early December.
Despite a permit being in place for alterations and additions to the property, an inspector discovered on October 23 that demolition work exceeded the permitted scope.
The city’s deputy chief building official, Norman Allen, emphasized the severity of the contravention, while the Rockcliffe Park Residents’ Association expressed devastation over the unauthorized destruction.
The Uganda High Commission, no stranger to conflicts over heritage properties, had faced a previous rejection by the city council for the demolition of another heritage building on Cobourg Street. Despite the opposition, the high commission is currently seeking approval to build a larger structure at the Mariposa Avenue site.
City staff are recommending approval of the high commission’s application, sparking concerns from residents and heritage advocates. Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Rawlson King highlighted the frustrating trend of neglected diplomatic properties in his ward, emphasizing the need to work with foreign missions for proper upkeep.
The situation has been brought to the attention of Global Affairs Canada, with the hope that diplomatic pressure will be exerted.
Meanwhile, both Elite Dream Construction and the Uganda High Commission have not responded to requests for comments. A 2023 report by Uganda’s auditor general had previously noted the sorry state of the buildings on Mariposa Avenue and Cobourg Street.
The controversy surrounding the demolition raises questions about the preservation of diplomatic heritage in Canada and the role of local authorities in enforcing regulations on foreign missions. As legal proceedings unfold, the city faces the challenge of balancing heritage preservation with diplomatic relations.
Reported by CBC News