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Tessa Virtue and Morgan Rielly’s heritage home reno facing pushback

Click to play video: 'Tessa Virtue and Morgan Rielly advised to halt exterior paint job on house'
Tessa Virtue and Morgan Rielly advised to halt exterior paint job on house
WATCH: Tessa Virtue and Morgan Rielly advised to halt exterior paint job on house – Jun 11, 2024

Canadian figure skater Tessa Virtue and husband Morgan Rielly have been advised to halt the exterior paint job on their Toronto home. Renovations at the home of the celebrity couple were front and centre at the Toronto and East York Community Council meeting on Tuesday.

Documents obtained by Global News show a building permit was issued for the heritage property in May 2023. A revised building permit was issued months later in September.

According to a city staff report, revised drawings showed new windows, and a proposed front elevation “included a note saying the brick was to be painted.” It goes on to read that, “Heritage Planning staff were not aware of this note when they cleared the Building Permit,” and permit drawings didn’t contain any references to the “painting of masonry on the side elevations.”

During a visit by Heritage Planning, city staff noticed “the west façade of the house” was being painted. That’s when the owners were advised to halt that work and seek out the required approvals under Section 42 of the Ontario Heritage Act.

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Rodney Gill, one of the solicitors for Virtue and Rielly, was in attendance on Tuesday. He noted his clients are looking to apply a layer of limewash to their home.

The home is situated within the North Rosedale Heritage Conservation District. Comments in the city staff report refer to its antique brick masonry as “one of its most important attributes.” Rather than coating it in a layer of limewash, they recommend masonry repairs, repointing, and brick cleaning.

In his presentation to council members, Gill said they had obtained a letter from an engineer stating that the long-term structural performance of the home would be greatly enhanced by the application of the limewash. Photos of other painted brick homes in the area were also supplied.

“This is ultimately about balancing private property interest and public interest in preserving heritage properties — and we believe that our clients have properly balanced that interest,” said Gill.

Ward 11 University-Rosedale Coun. Dianne Saxe was a vocal supporter of the staff recommendation to deny Virtue and Rielly’s appeal, although she acknowledged the building was permitted in error.

“This is really clear. These people just bought this house. They bought it with notice of the heritage conservation plan. They hired an expert. If the expert didn’t bother checking what the rules are, that’s not our problem,” Saxe told those in attendance at the meeting.

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The matter has now been forwarded to city council without recommendations. Those meetings are slated for the end of June.

In a statement to Global News, the North Rosedale Residents’ Association expressed its disappointment that the recommendations of Toronto Heritage and the Heritage Preservation Board were not endorsed in the motion to move the matter to city council.

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