The William Stickwood House (also known as Fernbank Farms and the Stickwood-Walker Farm) was built in 1885 as an upgrade to the 1830 Bogart family home. The Stickwood family was important in the development of Newmarket as the only local manufacturer of bricks and has a long history as part of the Newmarket community. In June 1998 the one-and-a-half storey Gothic Revival house received a Municipal Heritage Designation under the Ontario Heritage Act in recognition of its architectural and historical value.
The 36 hectare Stickwood-Walker property was purchased by the Town in 2003. In 2004, following a public consultation period, Newmarket Council endorsed a plan for the property that would ultimately see it develop for a multi-use recreation complex (the Magna Centre), a low-rise residential apartment building and single detached residential lots, including the development of the Eco Homes on Quaker Trail, together with the retention of extensive public open space including the existing Stickwood-Walker Farmhouse and surrounding lands. Most recently part of the farm fields have been used as community gardens run by York Region Food Network.
The farmhouse has remained primarily underutilized and recently was falling into disrepair. In an effort to enhance the community benefit of the property the Town set out a Request For Proposals (RFP) to find a partner willing to refurbish the farmhouse and utilize the land. Specifically, the Town sought to find a charitable and/or not-for-profit organization for adaptive re-use of the property through a long-term lease.
After a comprehensive procurement process, the Town has entered into a lease agreement with Denison Childcare for the rental of the the Stickwood Walker farmhouse and surrounding preservation area. Dension Childcare is proposing to revitalize the farmhouse while maintaining the historical façade for use as offices for the non-profit organization and other community groups.
Denison has indicated their intention to submit an application to build a 5000 square foot childcare facility between the farmhouse and Mulock Drive. The proposed facility would provide childcare spaces for 73 children and employ approximately 20 staff. The Town initiated an Official Plan amendment and Zoning By-law amendment process to add day nursery as a permitted use for the portion of the property rented out to Denison. This was approved by council on September 9, 2019
As part of the Request For Proposals, Denison proposed that the Stickwood-Walker farmhouse be re-purposed for administrative and public uses. The current proposal indicates the intention of Denison Childcare to use the summer kitchen in the farmhouse to display historical photographs and artifacts about the property. In keeping with the house's heritage designation, all exterior historical aspects of the farmhouse will be preserved.
This project will primarily be funded by the non-profit Denison Child Care through a $2 million grant, as part of the Community-Based Early Years and Child Care Capital Funding (CBCP) program from York Region and the Province of Ontario.
|Lease executed June 1, 2019|
|Public Meeting June 17, 2019|
|Council Approval for OPA and rezoning - September 9, 2019|
|Public Information Centre held on November 19, 2019|
Site Plan approved
|Building Permit submitted|
|Project Completion (est.) December 2020|
The applicant's vision:
Denison Child Care Services plans to expand its current daycare offerings to the Stickwood-Walker Farmhouse site, contingent on the approval of a successful site plan submission to the Town of Newmarket. This project will include the building of a new 5000 square foot facility for children zero to four years old. The project will reflect it's location by providing a focus on outdoor education. The grounds will include large gardens where children will learn about growing their own food and environmental sustainability. The location of this new site will offer a natural playscape where children can "go beyond the fence" to learn about nature while honouring the ancestry of the land.