Letter about the Sears Building to Kitchener City Council by Karl Kessler

Below is a letter from Karl Kessler sent on November 21, two days after the Council decided to allow demolition of the Sear Building at 200 Fairway Road, Kitchener.  Images of the former and proposed building are above.

Comments on the question of the Sears Building are welcomed in the area at then end of this post.  Should you wish to write a long response, please send your comments to communications.aco.nwrb@gmail.com


Greetings –

I attended the meeting of Kitchener City Council this past Monday out of an interest in the future of the former Sears building – out of a personal interest, and also a professional interest as Doors Open Waterloo Region coordinator for the past sixteen years. I also contribute a magazine column on our local architecture.

 The constructive tone and the thoughtful, probing Q&A between council and the delegations was encouraging – thank you for that.

But I believe a few points are worth emphasizing.

Also, some statements were made that I believe should be challenged, and more importantly, re-examined in future discussions around built heritage.

Please take a few moments to read through these, with my thanks for your time.

I welcome your thoughts.

  •  It’s typical, almost to the point of being a rule, that during any given period in the past century or more we feel (often strong) disaffection towards architecture that is about 50-60 years old. On Monday, some delegations alluded to this. Lately, in both my professional and volunteer work, I’ve witnessed a slowly growing interest in, and affection for, mid-twentieth-century buildings. This kind of increasing appreciation also is typical – for example, decommissioned industrial buildings were usually demolished until they, more recently, became coveted. In light of this, it’s worth noting that the newly restored 1960s Waterloo County Courthouse at Weber and Queen streets welcomed hundreds and hundreds of curious and enthusiastic visitors each of the two times it has participated in Doors Open.
  •  Not only are there very few opportunities for designating important buildings in general, but intact examples of buildings similar in style and period to the former Sears are very rare. We are fast approaching a situation in which good examples from this important, striking architectural era have mostly vanished, creating a conspicuous gap in our cultural heritage.
  •  One or two councilors suggested, and one repeated, that Heritage Kitchener considers cases such as the Sears building only with heritage conservation in mind. Of course heritage is their lens, but the goals of municipal heritage committees everywhere exist in, and are tightly constrained by, the “real world”. These committees were deliberately created to speak to situations exactly like that of the former Sears building: to inform us with their expertise and particular perspective, and to help prevent the kinds of infamous losses that were common in the middle of the last century, of which there are numerous local examples. And so to imply that because heritage committees have a vested interest, they should therefore be taken with a grain of salt, is puzzling.
  • Further, if heritage committees come at these kinds of issues leaning towards conservation, property developers in possession of identified heritage assets have often leaned demonstrably, and just as heavily, in the other direction. In order for city staff and council to strike a balance between the two aims, the longstanding tendency towards demolition should be acknowledged just as frankly.
  •  Conserving intact the very best of our built cultural fabric has often been framed as antithetical to the aims and health of commerce. On Monday, this again was the case. Generally, this assertion has not been borne out by results where a bit more imagination, will, and resources are brought to the table.
  •  Discussion on Monday referred often to the grim challenges facing storefront retail in general, and malls in particular. Their future was characterized as fragile at best, imperiled at worst. Why, then, permit the demolition of an already existing heritage façade, recognized as culturally significant, if that demolition is only to serve something identified as so changeable?
  • Increased costs and logistical difficulties are ALWAYS stated as main objections against the case for heritage designation, as no doubt they will be in the future. If these continue to be given primacy when the case for designation is strong, it will also continue to be that little of the best of our built heritage will make the grade for meaningful conservation, and having municipal heritage committees in place may increasingly seem to be without merit.
  •  Several of the logistical objections to designation, such as the poor insulating characteristics of the historical precast façade panels, seemed a bit disingenuous. Interior work could address many such issues.
  •  I may be mistaken, but I believe the original architect was not discussed on Monday evening. If a full consideration of the building’s significance is to be claimed, it seems to me that this item should have been part of the public record.

 Many thanks again for your time, and for your ongoing consideration of the challenges facing our built heritage.

Karl Kessler

ACO’s Lecture Series for 2018/19 kicks off November 8th

Image courtesy of City of Cambridge Archives

The phenomenon of the philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie in funding the construction of libraries virtually across the world and the special gift of the eight buildings endowed to what is now the Region of Waterloo will be the subject of ACO’s educational lecture series this year.

Carnegie himself and the motives behind his benevolence will be discussed as will the Beaux-Arts style popular for public buildings at turn-of-the century and used for the majority of the Region’s Carnegie libraries. A lecture by architect Phillip Carter will examine the creative ways in which his retrofits and additions to Carnegie buildings have extended their lives without compromising the beauty of their original designs.

As the good weather returns next spring, we will be offering a day-long bus tour that will afford us the opportunity of examining especially interesting examples of libraries built through Carnegie’s generosity that continue to serve the evolving needs of the communities where they were built a century ago.

The first lecture takes place Thursday, November 8 and is presented by heritage planner and historic restoration specialist, Erin Smith. 

Entitled, “Andrew Carnegie’s Gift to the Region: Understanding the Eight Carnegie Libraries of Waterloo Region,” this illustrated lecture which examines the Region’s Carnegie libraries 1903 – 1923, spans the entire period of Carnegie’s grant program, thus offering a fairly comprehensive representation of Carnegie libraries over time.
The talk will also place the Region’s Carnegie libraries in the broader timeline of architecture and library development, from the early twentieth century to the present day. The impacts of major paradigm shifts in architecture and planning, resulting in the loss of many of our Carnegie libraries, will be discussed. Lastly, the Carnegie library’s place in the 21st century will be contemplated – the challenges and exciting opportunities facing our Carnegie libraries will be explored.
Go to the Eventbrite site now for your tickets.


Again this year lectures will be hosted at WalterFedy, 675 Queen Street South, Kitchener and begin at 7 pm. Plenty of parking is available and the building is accessible.

Sandra Hanmer, Candidate for Ward 1

hanmer4waterlooward1@gmail.com

Support for Municipal Heritage Committees

  1. Would you encourage Council to provide your Municipal Heritage Committee with the support and resources it needs to update these older designation bylaws, where required?

Yes, I would encourage Council to work with the Municipal Heritage Committee to discuss, review and revise the bylaws as necessary to ensure that we are enabling the preservation of heritage properties in our City.

  1. Would you encourage Council to support your Municipal Heritage Committee’s requests for Listing non-designated properties on the Municipal Heritage Register?

Yes. I understand that a lot of great work in this area has already occurred through the initiation of the Heritage Planner role. In addition, activities through the Heritage Committee have also begun to help property owners see the heritage value in their land/homes.  I would encourage Council to continue working with both the Heritage Planner and the Heritage Committee to help citizens understand and appreciate the value of having their properties listed.

Financial Incentives for Heritage Conservation

  1. Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality has a heritage property grant program, or, if it already has one, to ensure that the grant levels are adequate?

I am aware that the City of Waterloo has implemented a Community Improvement Program (CIP) which is designed to assist property owners in rehabilitation efforts. I would want to understand from the Heritage Committee and the citizens how this program is working so far and if modifications need to be made what would they be.

  1. Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality has a heritage property tax refund program and that the funding levels are adequate?

A heritage property tax refund is but one incentive to support heritage conservation efforts. I would want to learn from the City’s Heritage Planner and Heritage Committee what incentives they believe would deliver the best value to the City’s heritage conservation efforts and provide the most effective solutions.

Modern Tools to Conserving our Built Heritage

  1. Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality is using all the tools at its disposal to support the conservation of our built heritage resources?

Yes. I am encouraged to learn that Council has approved a six-goal Built Heritage Strategy to guide our city initiatives. I’m also understanding that the city is already pursuing Cultural Heritage Landscape efforts. These two-initiatives coupled with the implementation of the Heritage Planner role and the great work of the Heritage Committee I believe put Council in a strong position to be able to utilize best practices and available tools to support the conservation of our heritage resources.

Heritage as an Environmental Priority for Municipally-Owned Buildings

  1. Would you encourage your Council to give priority to the continuing use or adaptive re-use of existing buildings (identified as heritage or not) in their facility and capital planning; and where buildings are determined to be surplus to needs, use best efforts to dispose of the building/facility to other public or private sector owners for re-use or sensitive redevelopment?

Absolutely, Council should be encouraged to continue to give priority to use or adaptive re-use buildings. Re-using or repurposing existing buildings helps our city in so many ways – preserving heritage, decreasing demolition and waste, creating space opportunities for organizations who might not have been able to find affordable space within the city and the list goes on.

Relieving Property Tax Pressures on Heritage Buildings

  1. Would you support your Council in urging the Province to work with municipalities to ensure that property taxes and other provincial policies are not creating demolition pressures on heritage properties?

Preserving the heritage of our City, Region and Province takes cooperation at all levels. Citizens along with municipal, regional and provincial governments must work together to look at policies and incentives that encourage the maintenance rather than demolition of heritage properties.

Additional Questions

What are some examples of your heritage engagement thus far, and if elected, what are the first few local heritage issues you would like to address?

I grew up in a century old home. My family worked with the town council to ensure that any modifications we were making to our family home were in keeping with heritage preservation guidelines at the time. I understand and appreciate the importance of preserving the history of communities through its buildings and properties.

Even though I’ve not had the opportunity to be actively involved in the Heritage Committee in the City of Waterloo, I would welcome the opportunity to learn from the Heritage Planner and the Heritage Committee the priority heritage issues that Council should consider.

Have you had any experience working with/for your local Heritage Community? If so, explain.

As mentioned above, I’ve not had the opportunity to work with our City of Waterloo Heritage Committee and would welcome an opportunity to do so.

Tell us about a successful heritage project in your community.

We have numerous examples of successful heritage projects throughout our community. The successful heritage project that is most relevant to the citizens of Ward 1 I believe is the Rummelhardt School House which is used by the K-W Bilingual School. The rehabilitation and expansion of this property has preserved the uniqueness of the heritage school while adding current day spaces to enhance the learning environment for the students and teachers at the school. 

What opportunities exist to better support heritage in your local community?

The Heritage Committee has undertaken a number of initiatives to help preserve and promote the heritage of our community. I believe that we could also consider things like plaques on heritage buildings and walking tours that show citizens and visitors the richness of the history in our community. We live in a progressive technology community, lets capitalize on that to promote and raise awareness of our heritage. I’m sure that with our community partners we could create a gps enabled app that would allow people to take a self-guided tour of our community!

Stephanie Stretch, Candidate for Ward 1

steph@votestretch.ca

1. Support for Municipal Heritage Committees

With the passage of the Ontario Heritage Act in 1975, the responsibility for the conservation of our cultural heritage resources was given to municipalities. One of the key tools provided by the Act is the power to pass bylaws to formally designate properties for architectural, historical or contextual reasons. Changes to the Act in 2005 meant that many earlier bylaws were not written in such a way as to meet the development pressures heritage properties are under today. Would you encourage Council to provide your Municipal Heritage Committee with the support and resources it needs to update these older designation bylaws, where required?

As I build context around the Municipal Heritage Committee and the important role it plays in our community I can offer my support. I can also offer my advocacy skills when I am elected. Housing is major issue in Kitchener and I agree that bylaws need to be updated to meet our changing needs. The Municipal and Heritage Committee would have good insight into how to incorporate green initiatives  and conservation efforts into creative long-term housing solutions. My home is a Heritage Home and in my experience working with the Municipal Heritage Committee is helpful and creative in finding solutions.

Those changes to the Ontario Heritage Act in 2005 allowed municipalities to List non-designated properties on the Municipal Heritage Register, previously just a record of designated properties. While these properties may be good candidates for future designation, listing provides limited protection to a property – a listed property owner must provide Council with 60 days’ notice of their intention to demolish the heritage building, rather than the Building Code Act’s 10 to 30 days’ notice. This provides Council with time to make an informed decision. Would you encourage Council to support your Municipal Heritage Committee’s requests for Listing non-designated properties on the Municipal Heritage Register?

Time to consult the people of the neighbourhood, and the neighbourhood associations is important. We must give them enough time to consider the changes and development to their neighbourhood and put together an action plan. Neighbours must have a voice and in my experience as a community builder, building that voice often takes time especially when presenting to council.  I need to build more context as to how all these pieces fit together but time to consult and inform with the public is a priority of mine.

2. Financial Incentives for Heritage Conservation

Rehabilitation of our heritage resources enhances the unique character of local streets and neighbourhoods, attracting business, creative enterprise and tourism to our communities. The monies spent on this rehabilitation is usually spent locally, e.g., the repair of old windows by a local craftsperson rather than the purchase of new windows made elsewhere. Some local municipalities have a grant program to provide funds to designated heritage properties, e.g., repointing, repair of original windows, replication of front porch elements, reconstruction of a chimney, structural repairs, etc. Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality has a heritage property grant program, or, if it already has one, to ensure that the grant levels are adequate?

Grants to help all homeowners keep good repair of their homes – especially heritage homes – is an encouraging and supportive way to make sure that we are building into our neighborhoods. Supported granting programs can provide extra motivation to take on larger home projects informed by the municipalities heritage experience and understanding. I am supportive of our municipal granting programs for home repair and heritage conservation and ill advocate for its continued and adequate funding.

The Ontario Heritage Act allows municipalities to set up a heritage property tax refund program, under which owners of designated property may apply for an annual refund of up to 40% of their property taxes for municipal and school purposes. Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality has a heritage property tax refund program and that the funding levels are adequate?

Tax rebates for properties that serve a community purpose are to be encouraged.  Homeowners who preserve their heritage buildings for the betterment of our community should be considered for a tax rebate – as should homeowners who provide affordable housing options and access.  Council should support the practices of involved citizens who step up to enliven their neighborhood and create welcoming spaces.

3. Modern Tools to Conserving our Built Heritage

Protection and financial incentives are important tools municipalities can use to support the conservation of our built heritage resources. And new tools are being developed or used in new ways, such as the recognition in official plans of cultural heritage landscapes, the use of holding provisions in zoning bylaws to ensure certain conditions are met before development approval is given, and the serious consideration of the recommendations of heritage impact assessments. Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality is using all the tools at its disposal to support the conservation of our built heritage resources?

I am supportive of the use of new tools and engaging with emerging ideas around heritage consideration, conservation and restoration. Council must keep pace with a rapidly changing world, and continue to consider the merits of preservation, reuse, and reincorporation of our heritage properties as pressures to modernize increase. Kitchener can move forward without breaking ties with our architectural history – I will continue to advocate for innovative solutions to what may be perceived as competing interests.

4. Heritage as an Environmental Priority for Municipally-Owned Buildings

The wise management of our existing public building stock has compelling societal and environmental benefits. Building renewal and re-use capitalizes on materials and energy already invested, reduces construction and demolition waste (20-30 percent of landfill is building waste) and builds resilience to climate change. Would you encourage your Council to give priority to the continuing use or adaptive re-use of existing buildings (identified as heritage or not) in their facility and capital planning; and where buildings are determined to be surplus to needs, use best efforts to dispose of the building/facility to other public or private sector owners for re-use or sensitive redevelopment?

I favour an environmentally sound approach to creative reuse of existing structures for evolving purpose. I have been inspired by the repurposing and revitalization of heritage buildings in Kitchener, and I consider the repurposing of existing structures an ethical choice that prioritizes our environmental commitments.  I am very pleased to see heritage and other significant structures incorporated into new builds.

5. Relieving Property Tax Pressures on Heritage Buildings

Property tax assessment is based on the property’s value, including its unrealized potential development value. If we are to conserve heritage buildings appropriately, property assessment/taxes must be based on the actual income of the property, not on potential income that can only be realized through complete or partial demolition and redevelopment. For these reasons, the City of Toronto appealed to the Ontario government in January 2017 requesting examination of a separate tax class for heritage property. Would you support your Council in urging the Province to work with municipalities to ensure that property taxes and other provincial policies are not creating demolition pressures on heritage properties?

We should work to reclassify heritage buildings under the tax code for the express purpose of conservation. It is a problem when developers buy up properties, let them sit empty or in constant poor repair, and then allow them become condemned as a fiscal decision. These practices are wasteful, destructive  and without merit to the community.

In addition, please consider these additional questions:

What are some examples of your heritage engagement thus far, and if elected, what are the first few local heritage issues you would like to address?

Have you had any experience working with/for your local Heritage Community? If so, explain.

I live in a heritage home in Kitchener and have had good experience with our municipal body concerned for preservation and repairs.  Administrators with the municipality have shown enthusiasm for our home and have made their experience and support available and accessible.  Because of their knowledge and support, we have been able to move forward on projects that restore the curb appeal of our home, and improve our quality of life.

Kelly Galloway Sealock, Candidate for Ward 5

kelly.galloway.sealock@gmail.com
  1. Support for Municipal Heritage Committees

With the passage of the Ontario Heritage Act in 1975, the responsibility for the conservation of our cultural heritage resources was given to municipalities. One of the key tools provided by the Act is the power to pass bylaws to formally designate properties for architectural, historical or contextual reasons.  Changes to the Act in 2005 meant that many earlier bylaws were not written in such a way as to meet the development pressures heritage properties are under today.  Would you encourage Council to provide your Municipal Heritage Committee with the support and resources it needs to update these older designation bylaws, where required?

Yes – I think it’s important to make sure there are the right resources to assist in making these updates. 

Those changes to the Ontario Heritage Act in 2005 allowed municipalities to List non-designated properties on the Municipal Heritage Register, previously just a record of designated properties. While these properties may be good candidates for future designation, listing provides limited protection to a property – a listed property owner must provide Council with 60 days’ notice of their intention to demolish the heritage building, rather than the Building Code Act’s 10 to 30 days’ notice. This provides Council with time to make an informed decision. Would you encourage Council to support your Municipal Heritage Committee’s requests for Listing non-designated properties on the Municipal Heritage Register?

My answer to this would be yes in most cases but I feel it’s important to look at each property on a case by case basis.

  1. Financial Incentives for Heritage Conservation

Rehabilitation of our heritage resources enhances the unique character of local streets and neighbourhoods, attracting business, creative enterprise and tourism to our communities. The monies spent on this rehabilitation is usually spent locally, e.g., the repair of old windows by a local craftsperson rather than the purchase of new windows made elsewhere. Some local municipalities have a grant program to provide funds to designated heritage properties, e.g., repointing, repair of original windows, replication of front porch elements, reconstruction of a chimney, structural repairs, etc. Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality has a heritage property grant program, or, if it already has one, to ensure that the grant levels are adequate?

This is something I would be willing to look into and potentially support.

The Ontario Heritage Act allows municipalities to set up a heritage property tax refund program, under which owners of designated property may apply for an annual refund of up to 40% of their property taxes for municipal and school purposes. Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality has a heritage property tax refund program and that the funding levels are adequate?

This is something that I would consider but would like to see the information, cost, community input before making a final decision.

  1. Modern Tools to Conserving our Built Heritage

Protection and financial incentives are important tools municipalities can use to support the conservation of our built heritage resources. And new tools are being developed or used in new ways, such as the recognition in official plans of cultural heritage landscapes, the use of holding provisions in zoning bylaws to ensure certain conditions are met before development approval is given, and the serious consideration of the recommendations of heritage impact assessments. Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality is using all the tools at its disposal to support the conservation of our built heritage resources?

Yes – I have supported the heritage landscape plan that was presented at the city and would look at all other projects / programs on a case by case basis.

  1. Heritage as an Environmental Priority for Municipally-Owned Buildings

The wise management of our existing public building stock has compelling societal and environmental benefits. Building renewal and re-use capitalizes on materials and energy already invested, reduces construction and demolition waste (20-30 percent of landfill is building waste) and builds resilience to climate change. Would you encourage your Council to give priority to the continuing use or adaptive re-use of existing buildings (identified as heritage or not) in their facility and capital planning; and where buildings are determined to be surplus to needs, use best efforts to dispose of the building/facility to other public or private sector owners for re-use or sensitive redevelopment?

Yes – and I have done so with the heritage property that is going to moved so it can be repurposed in RBJ Schlegel Park

  1. Relieving Property Tax Pressures on Heritage Buildings

Property tax assessment is based on the property’s value, including its unrealized potential development value. If we are to conserve heritage buildings appropriately, property assessment/taxes must be based on the actual income of the property, not on potential income that can only be realized through complete or partial demolition and redevelopment. For these reasons, the City of Toronto appealed to the Ontario government in January 2017 requesting examination of a separate tax class for heritage property. Would you support your Council in urging the Province to work with municipalities to ensure that property taxes and other provincial policies are not creating demolition pressures on heritage properties?

Yes – this is something that I would consider.

In addition, please consider these additional questions:

What are some examples of your heritage engagement thus far, and if elected, what are the first few local heritage issues you would like to address?

Have you had any experience working with/for your local Heritage Community? If so, explain.

Tell us about a successful heritage project in your community.

There are 3 examples in the ward I currently represent where heritage homes have been moved and relocated for reuse or are being repurposed. These are good examples of how heritage can be integrated into new developments within the City of Kitchener.

What opportunities exist to better support heritage in your local community?

John Gazzola, Candidate for Ward 3

jgazzola@rogers.com

  1. Would you encourage Council to provide your Municipal Heritage Committee with the support and resources it needs to update these older designation bylaws, where required?

I have been a member of the City of Kitchener’s Heritage Committee for over a dozen years. I have always supported all Heritage requests and will continue to do so. I not only support the City committing funds to update designation by-laws but I would also request that the senior levels of government provide funding to municipalities  to assist them in this goal. I would  also ask that AMO (Association of Municipalities of Ontario) take a lead in obtaining funding from the Province for this action.

The City of Kitchener has already listed all non-designated  properties on the Municipal Heritage Register. The next step is to list all our Natural Cultural Landscapes. I again fully support that action.

  1. Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality has a heritage property grant program, or, if it already has one, to ensure that the grant levels are adequate? Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality has a heritage property tax refund program and that the funding levels are adequate?

The City of Kitchener currently has an assistance program. I do not feel that it is currently adequate and additional funding must be directed to this program. Heritage preservation can be costly to residents and not for profit organizations.

Updating the property tax refund program should be investigated. Programs to assist developers in dealing with contaminated properties have been generous. Similar revised programs should be investigated to assist heritage properties.

  1. Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality is using all the tools at its disposal to support the conservation of our built heritage resources?

Having given a positive answer for the two previous questions it is only consistent that we use all the available tools to support our built heritage

  1. Would you encourage your Council to give priority to the continuing use or adaptive re-use of existing buildings (identified as heritage or not) in their facility and capital planning; and where buildings are determined to be surplus to needs, use best efforts to dispose of the building/facility to other public or private sector owners for re-use or sensitive redevelopment?

I have supported this concept in the past and would continue to do so in the future. In most cases even though there are many new products in the market place it is difficult to fond products that have greater endurance than existing buildings. With adaptive re-use we can save the best of the existing and add to it resulting in a much superior end product rather than just tearing down and building new. I can support this not only for civic structures but all buildings in our community.

  1. Would you support your Council in urging the Province to work with municipalities to ensure that property taxes and other provincial policies are not creating demolition pressures on heritage properties?

I would need to investigate this issue further. I am not sure that I agree with your statement as to how existing properties are currently assessed.  Assessment practices change quite frequently and I am not totally cognizant of what principles are currently being followed.

There are currently several different classes of properties for assessment purposes. A special separate class for Heritage Properties might be quite useful in the future and would make it easier for municipalities in dealing with these ongoing issues.

Have you had any experience working with/for your local Heritage Community?

I have served on Kitchener’s Heritage Committee since 2003. Over the years I have often stood alone on many heritage issues dealt with by Kitchener City Council. The City has not had a strong reputation in dealing with Heritage issues. We have allowed bad practices to carry on and ultimately have lost several heritage properties that have fallen into such poor repair that it has been necessary to demolish them because of safety risks ( eq. Mayfair Hotel ).

Kitchener City Council has tended to support demolition over Heritage,

What opportunities exist to better support heritage in your local community?

The City has prepared an extensive listing of Cultural Heritage Landscapes. However, the Heritage has not fully reviewed these landscapes to properly assess their cultural value and as a result they have not yet been formally listed for Heritage protection. I would like to see this finalized in the next two to three years.

Kelly Steiss, Candidate for Mayor

kellyisteiss@outlook.com

  1. Support for Municipal Heritage Committees

With the passage of the Ontario Heritage Act in 1975, the responsibility for the conservation of our cultural heritage resources was given to municipalities. One of the key tools provided by the Act is the power to pass bylaws to formally designate properties for architectural, historical or contextual reasons.  Changes to the Act in 2005 meant that many earlier bylaws were not written in such a way as to meet the development pressures heritage properties are under today.  Would you encourage Council to provide your Municipal Heritage Committee with the support and resources it needs to update these older designation bylaws, where required?

ANSWER: Heritage and its preservation is not only important to our community and to our future but me personally. My family, the Kuntz Brewery family has a 100 year history in this City and in this Region. When I look at family photos I recognize places and spaces in our City and when I am out in our City I am reminded of the history of my family and the contributions that they have made as successful merchants. We do need to make sure that older designation bylaws are updated and fit with the current legislation. I would definitely encourage Council to look at how we can provide support and resources required.

Those changes to the Ontario Heritage Act in 2005 allowed municipalities to List non-designated properties on the Municipal Heritage Register, previously just a record of designated properties. While these properties may be good candidates for future designation, listing provides limited protection to a property – a listed property owner must provide Council with 60 days’ notice of their intention to demolish the heritage building, rather than the Building Code Act’s 10 to 30 days’ notice. This provides Council with time to make an informed decision. Would you encourage Council to support your Municipal Heritage Committee’s requests for Listing non-designated properties on the Municipal Heritage Register?

ANSWER: We have a bad track record of preserving history in this City. It is important that we use the tools and resources available to us to support the preservation of our history because it helps to inform and inspire our future. So yes, I would encourage and work with Council to support this request.

  1. Financial Incentives for Heritage Conservation

Rehabilitation of our heritage resources enhances the unique character of local streets and neighbourhoods, attracting business, creative enterprise and tourism to our communities. The monies spent on this rehabilitation is usually spent locally, e.g., the repair of old windows by a local craftsperson rather than the purchase of new windows made elsewhere. Some local municipalities have a grant program to provide funds to designated heritage properties, e.g., repointing, repair of original windows, replication of front porch elements, reconstruction of a chimney, structural repairs, etc. Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality has a heritage property grant program, or, if it already has one, to ensure that the grant levels are adequate?

The Ontario Heritage Act allows municipalities to set up a heritage property tax refund program, under which owners of designated property may apply for an annual refund of up to 40% of their property taxes for municipal and school purposes. Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality has a heritage property tax refund program and that the funding levels are adequate?

ANSWER: I feel that these questions go hand-in-hand. We need to support those efforts and those people who want to make the effort to preserve our heritage. Financial incentives are a great start and I look forward to working with our Council to review grant levels and our property tax refund program.

  1. Modern Tools to Conserving our Built Heritage

Protection and financial incentives are important tools municipalities can use to support the conservation of our built heritage resources. And new tools are being developed or used in new ways, such as the recognition in official plans of cultural heritage landscapes, the use of holding provisions in zoning bylaws to ensure certain conditions are met before development approval is given, and the serious consideration of the recommendations of heritage impact assessments. Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality is using all the tools at its disposal to support the conservation of our built heritage resources?

ANSWER: My answer to this would be similar to previous answers – we need to work together, listen to each other and use the tools available to us preserve our history. While I don’t have a lot of experience working with Heritage, I do bring the experience of working together, the ability to bring people together for conversation and I believe strongly in supporting our heritage.

  1. Heritage as an Environmental Priority for Municipally-Owned Buildings

The wise management of our existing public building stock has compelling societal and environmental benefits. Building renewal and re-use capitalizes on materials and energy already invested, reduces construction and demolition waste (20-30 percent of landfill is building waste) and builds resilience to climate change. Would you encourage your Council to give priority to the continuing use or adaptive re-use of existing buildings (identified as heritage or not) in their facility and capital planning; and where buildings are determined to be surplus to needs, use best efforts to dispose of the building/facility to other public or private sector owners for re-use or sensitive redevelopment?

ANSWER: Not only does adaptive re-use have heritage benefits but it also has environmental savings as well. We need to look at different and better ways to support adaptive re-use and how we dispose of buildings and facilities.

  1. Relieving Property Tax Pressures on Heritage Buildings

Property tax assessment is based on the property’s value, including its unrealized potential development value. If we are to conserve heritage buildings appropriately, property assessment/taxes must be based on the actual income of the property, not on potential income that can only be realized through complete or partial demolition and redevelopment. For these reasons, the City of Toronto appealed to the Ontario government in January 2017 requesting examination of a separate tax class for heritage property. Would you support your Council in urging the Province to work with municipalities to ensure that property taxes and other provincial policies are not creating demolition pressures on heritage properties?

ANSWER: Absolutely! As in the previous answer, we must find ways to support the preservation of our history but also to look at supporting adaptive re-use of our buildings and facilities. We can no longer afford to not pay attention. We need to work with our Provincial government to find ways to alleviate demolition pressures.

In addition, please consider these additional questions:

What are some examples of your heritage engagement thus far, and if elected, what are the first few local heritage issues you would like to address?

ANSWER: I have not yet had the opportunity to have a lot of engagement with heritage in our community, other than my family history which provides me with a personal and sentimental connection to our City. More and more, as I talk to people and I start to understand the issues, I realize the impact and importance of preserving our history. As the Mayor of Waterloo, I look forward to meeting with this Committee for a discussion so that I can really understand the issues and priorities. And, I would also encourage our Council to have the same discussion. It is why we need a Mayor in Waterloo that is interested in hearing from our community, engaging in discussion and growing our City together  – and growing our City can mean preserving our heritage.

Have you had any experience working with/for your local Heritage Community? If so, explain.

Tell us about a successful heritage project in your community.

What opportunities exist to better support heritage in your local community?

ANSWER: We need to connect people to their local heritage and local history. By continuing to support events such as Open Door and Janes Walk, these are creative and informative ways to understand and appreciate what was there before us.

Elizabeth Sproule, Candidate for Ward 7

elizabethsprouleward7@gmail.com 

  1. Support for Municipal Heritage Committees

Would you encourage Council to provide your Municipal Heritage Committee with the support and resources it needs to update these older designation bylaws, where required?

I understand that the lack of detail in a designation bylaw, reflecting all the heritage attributes of a property (which criteria is now included in a designation bylaw) could leave an older designation bylaw vulnerable to challenge.  It appears that to update a bylaw municipalities need to provide a statement explaining the cultural heritage value or interest and a description of specific heritage attributes.  As the creation of these statements and descriptions may require the consultation of a heritage architect and/ or expert I understand the need for support and resources.    I would encourage Council to support our MHC with this task, ideally working from a prioritized list of most vulnerable sites.  I am not sure what City staff expertise is, or will be available for support when this is undertaken, but I would like to see community expert resources  be utilized as much as possible as well.  This would, I hope, make this work as cost effective as possible.

Would you encourage Council to support your Municipal Heritage Committee’s requests for Listing non-designated properties on the Municipal Heritage Register?

Yes I would encourage Council to support our MHC requests for listing non-designated properties on the Register.  I own a property which I have been told is of ‘interest’.  It is beautiful old home.  Personal interest aside, ensuring that additional time is provided to the municipality to determine the importance of preserving a particular heritage asset  before irreversible steps are taken is in my mind the right thing to do.

  1. Financial Incentives for Heritage Conservation

Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality has a heritage property grant program, or, if it already has one, to ensure that the grant levels are adequate?

The Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation offers grants for Heritage related endeavors.  I do not know whether the grant levels are adequate.  I appreciate that the requirements to maintain,  restore, preserve a heritage property in a particular way  increases the  costs to  owning such a property –  wooden windows are more costly than vinyl, needing architectural or engineering drawings to repair a porch is a significant cost.

I would encourage Council to take whatever steps it can to ensure that there are funds available to address this challenges faced by heritage property owners to maintain a heritage property to the standards being exacted.  I think the key to broad support for this is making the necessity for this support, the justification, clear.  All homeowners face costs in maintenance, the question is –  what is fair? Given that we are asking individuals to preserve something for all of us, at a minimum I would think that the added cost of meeting heritage standards should be covered.

There is some literature which suggests that heritage listing either has no effect on property values, or sometimes improves the value of the property.  I am not aware of local studies on this point.  This raises the question that perhaps consideration could be given to an interest free loan program as a feasible alternative to grants in some instances.  There would still be the benefical outcome, but it reduces the appearance of, or objection to, unjust enrichment.   I think Council should be encouraged to find whatever ways it can to make sure sufficient funds are available where needed to preserve a heritage asset/resource.

 Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality has a heritage property tax refund program and that the funding levels are adequate?

A heritage property tax refund may be another way of achieving the same goal as grants or interest free loans.

I am aware that other jurisdictions (Toronto for one) have such programs.  I understand the provincial government shares the costs of the rebates in relation to the education portion of the property taxes.   (Whether this will last in the current political climate is anyone’s guess).

I would be supported of a tax refund program of a similar nature – it being applicable or available when in a taxation year a property owner was incurring significant work/expenditures on the Heritage property to preserve, repair or restore it (this criteria may be expanded).   There would need to be an application/approval process in advance with details about the work to be undertaken and the costs etc.   An Arrangement/agreement with the provincial government to share in the costs of the rebates should obviously be pursued as part of this program.

  1. Modern Tools to Conserving our Built Heritage

 Would you encourage Council to ensure your Municipality is using all the tools at its disposal to support the conservation of our built heritage resources?

The thoughtful creation of reasonable and fair legal frameworks which allow a community to achieve its goals with respect to the conservation of its built heritage resources is something that I would support and encourage.

  1. Heritage as an Environmental Priority for Municipally-Owned Buildings

Would you encourage your Council to give priority to the continuing use or adaptive re-use of existing buildings (identified as heritage or not) in their facility and capital planning; and where buildings are determined to be surplus to needs, use best efforts to dispose of the building/facility to other public or private sector owners for re-use or sensitive redevelopment?

The re-use of existing buildings was the topic I spoke to at the Environmental Forum on September 20th:  I absolutely would be encouraging this.  In the last year I moved and reused an existing building – it saved thousands of pounds of construction materials going to the landfill.   The re-using of a building is something we should always be considering, putting buildings in dumpsters costs more than the disposal fees – the environmental impact is huge and we cannot keep doing it.

  1. Relieving Property Tax Pressures on Heritage Buildings

Would you support your Council in urging the Province to work with municipalities to ensure that property taxes and other provincial policies are not creating demolition pressures on heritage properties?

I have identified in my answer to question 2 one way in which the province could play a role in a tax refund program.  It is important for Council to work with the Province, and lobby where need be for change, to avoid or reduce the unintended consequences of provincial policies.   Law and policy makers are not infallible, quite the contrary, and affected parties must speak up.  As a lawyer, this is what I will always do.

Other questions considered.

One of the first issues I would like to address is how we can better prevent individuals from buying  properties, which are not yet protected, and reducing them to a state of utter decay through a campaign of neglect.

A couple of successful Heritage projects in our community, although not recent, are the John Brubacher Farmhouse owned by UofW and the Rummelhardt School House which is used by the K-W Bilingual School.

Samantha Estoesta, Candidate for Waterloo District School Board (Kitchener)

samantha.estoesta@gmail.com

Would you support your School Board in urging the Province to review and redesign provincial funding approaches for existing schools and new school construction to remove disincentives and encourage the retention, conservation and re-use of heritage schools?

Yes. In Kitchener, the area I hope to represent, we have incredible heritage schools, such as Suddaby (where William Lyon Mackenzie King attended), King Edward, KCI, Margaret Ave, and Courtland. In mid-September of this year, temperatures at KCI and Suddaby reached as high as 47 degrees. These schools are desperately in need of retrofitting; if I am elected, I will advocate for the Province to review and redesign provincial funding approaches for existing schools and new school construction to remove disincentives and encourage the retention, conservation and re-use of heritage schools, and focus on maintenance that will allow these heritage schools to be places of learning for generations to come.

How will you support adding history and heritage to the school curriculum?

If elected, I would advocate that local heritage-centred organizations should actively seek high school students’ involvement in connection with the potential fulfillment of the 40 hours of volunteering needed to graduate, co-op placements, and out-of-classroom experiential learning. Additionally, with our Region’s rich history, I would work to find ways to bring together educators and heritage organizations in the Region to infuse the current curriculum with local heritage elements.  

Would you be willing to promote student participation in local heritage projects such as Doors Open?

Yes! as I grew up in Chatham-Kent, I often was exposed to and participated in local heritage projects, such as our War of 1812 re-enactments (in local battle sites). Students in the Region should be aware of and involved in the heritage projects of Waterloo Region; this area has a rich and long history, with elements across many fields of interest that can appeal to students. As noted above, I believe a key way to get this student involvement is having organizations seek students to fulfill their 40 hours of volunteering needed to graduate, co-op placements, and out-of-classroom experiential learning.

Ted Martin, Candidate for Regional Councillor (Kitchener)

VoteTed18@gmail.com

  1. Would you encourage Regional Council to partner with any lower tier Municipality who has implemented a heritage property tax refund program?

I support the heritage tax refund program as a relatively low-cost way to conserve heritage properties. Well-maintained heritage properties provide benefit to the community and maintaining these properties can definitely add costs for the owners, so I think it is important that the Region provide some property tax relief for the owners.

In addition, please consider these additional questions:

  1. What are some examples of your heritage engagement thus far, and if elected, what are the first few local heritage issues you would like to address?

As a school board member, I attempted to forge a relationship between the Waterloo Region Public School Board and the Region archives in order to preserve the history of our schools, and also worked to assemble the lands that became the Huron Natural Area, home to significant archaeological finds. I live in an older downtown home and value the architectural character of such neighbourhoods. I am very interested in our local history and preserving our built heritage, and firmly believe that heritage preservation plays an important role in enriching the lives of residents and attracting investment to our region.

If elected, I will request a proactive assessment and report on heritage assets that may be threatened by development or neglect, and will work to maintain/increase funding for the Waterloo Region Heritage Foundation, so they can provide more grants for heritage building conservation. I would definitely welcome appointment to the Region’s Heritage Planning Advisory Committee.

  1. Have you had any experience working with/for your local Heritage Community? If so, explain.

My main efforts on behalf of local heritage have been as a member of the school board trying to find a home for various school artifacts, and as an advocate for different heritage buildings that were/are under threat in the downtown area where I live.

  1. Tell us about a successful heritage project in your community.

As a direct descendant of Peter Martin, I have always considered the preservation of the Peter Martin Farmhouse and its relocation to Doon Heritage Village as a success for our community, though there have been many more recent examples. Currently, I am most interested in preserving some of our downtown manufacturing sites, such as the Rumpel Felt building.

  1. What opportunities exist to better support heritage in your local community?

The Region has lost many significant heritage buildings over the years, so we need to ensure that we preserve key remaining buildings as the Region continues to grow and change. I have an old map of Kitchener framed on my dining room wall and it constantly reminds me of the many sites we have lost.

The Region has recently completed new implementation guidelines for conserving regionally significant Cultural Heritage Resources and Cultural Heritage Landscapes, which should assist staff and council to evaluate new development proposals and better support heritage.