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.