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ACO Submission to City of Kitchener on Heritage Conservation Districts

Note: In response to increasing pressures on Heritage Conservation Districts, the ACO North Waterloo Region Branch submitted an analysis and recommendations about better protection for these districts.  The following document was submitted on May 25, 2020 to city planners and councillors.

SUBMISSION to the City of Kitchener Planning Division regarding


Heritage Conservation Districts, Established Neighbourhoods

& Individually Designated (Part IV) Properties

by ACO North Waterloo Region branch (ACO NWR)

The City’s cultural heritage resources provide a link to the past and are an expression of the City’s culture and history. They contribute in a very significant way to the City’s identity and unique character. While Kitchener’s cultural heritage resources are important from a historical and cultural perspective, they are also of social, economic, environmental and educational value. They help to instill civic pride, foster a sense of community, contribute to tourism and stimulate the building renovation industry.

Preamble, Section 12: Cultural Heritage Resources, City of Kitchener Official Plan


Through advocacy and direct action, the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) has been a leader in preserving Ontario’s architectural and environmental heritage since 1933, with 20 branches currently operating in the province. The local ACO North Waterloo Region branch, formed in 1980, encourages the conservation and re-use of structures, districts and landscapes of architectural, historical and cultural significance through education and advocacy. We speak on behalf of about 100 local members in the communities of Kitchener, Waterloo, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich.

Our purpose in making this submission is twofold. First, residents of three of the four City of Kitchener Heritage Conservation Districts (HCDs)[1] and several of the established, predominantly central, neighbourhoods[2] have asked our branch to make recommendations to the Planning Division regarding the effect proposed Secondary Plans (SP) may have on their neighbourhoods, including commenting on their submissions to the City. Second, while we may be commenting on specific neighbourhoods, these same observations apply more widely to all properties of cultural heritage value in Kitchener, including individually designated Part IV properties, Listed properties, and properties located within Cultural Heritage Landscapes (CHL), whether they have recognized heritage status (protection) or not.


One of the most significant changes in society ACO NWR branch has seen since its inception has been a vast increase in the number of people who care deeply about our built heritage and shared history. Even if they live in a newer neighbourhood, many people now see our community’s heritage buildings as reinforcing their sense of place, belonging and well-being; providing quality, variety and meaning to their lives.

The story of Kitchener’s post-war development has shown that, where our built heritage has been valued and cared for, social and economic benefits have been generated for everyone, creating desirable, distinctive and economically successful places. Where its potential has not been recognized, where it has been degraded or destroyed, the quality of people’s lives has been impoverished and opportunities stifled.

One measure of how the City of Kitchener values our built heritage are the quantity and scope of heritage programs undertaken by staff and volunteers, including:

  • Individual Designations under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, including many City-owned properties
  • designation of Heritage Conservation Districts
  • Listing properties of cultural heritage value on the Municipal Heritage Register, which began as an Inventory of Historic Buildings more than 40 years ago
  • identifying, evaluating & conserving Cultural Heritage Landscapes
  • processing Heritage Permit Applications for Designated Properties
  • processing Planning Applications, including requiring Heritage Impact Assessments & Conservation Plans, for projects which include, or are adjacent to, properties with identified or potential cultural heritage value
  • funding & implementing the Heritage Grant Program
  • funding & implementing the Heritage Tax Refund Program
  • creation of the Mike & Pat Wagner Heritage Awards
  • developing walking tour brochures of a number of neighbourhoods in the City – appreciated even more in these days of social distancing
  • installing heritage interpretive plaques throughout the City, sometimes in partnership with community groups
  • installing industrial artifacts throughout the City
  • creation in 1979 & ongoing support of a municipal heritage advisory committee
  • hiring & providing resources to dedicated heritage planning staff for more than 30 years
  • providing information & support to heritage property owners
  • plus many more

This can also be seen in the research undertaken in the Secondary Plan process:

  • Cultural Heritage Resources sections within most of the SPs
  • Cultural Heritage Resources Map, to become part of the Official Plan
  • inclusion of Cultural Heritage Landscapes in SPs
  • Cultural Heritage Landscape Implementation for Cultural Heritage Landscapes within the KW Hospital SP Area
  • Lower Doon & Homer Watson Park Candidate Cultural Heritage Landscape Evaluation
  • City of Kitchener Urban Design Manual – Residential Infill in Central Neighbourhoods

Thank you to staff for all the work you do!


We will begin our submission with a few general comments about the value of HCDs and CHLs, the requirement for SPs to complement HCD Plans and recognize CHLs in the Official Plan (OP), how the Ontario Heritage Act affects the implementation of municipal bylaws, and about protecting other heritage properties, such as established neighbourhoods and individually designated properties, then ACO NWR branch will comment on several proposed Secondary Plans and the submissions neighbourhood groups made to City Council on December 9, 2019.


The Ontario Heritage Act gives municipalities the responsibility to identify, evaluate and conserve resources that have lasting cultural heritage value or interest in their community. HCDs offer a way to protect, over the long term, areas that have important and/or identifiable historic and architectural resources. The ability to designate HCDs is provided under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act. Further guidance regarding HCD evaluation and designation is provided by the City of Kitchener Official Plan (12.C.1.13 to 12.C.1.16).

HCDs are created after much consultation with area residents and with expertise from City planning staff and paid consultants. The boundaries are carefully and thoughtfully delineated in order to preserve our built heritage and provide stability for an area deemed worth protecting and conserving, often one thought to be under threat in future.

When proposals come forward that could destroy the very thing that Districts were meant to protect, area residents have good reason to wonder about the future of their neighbourhood. It has the result of introducing instability into an area.

The City of Kitchener’s HCDs (Civic Centre Neighbourhood, St. Mary’s, Upper Doon, Victoria Park Area) have proven successful in preserving the integrity of areas that have important and identifiable cultural heritage significance. Our new proposed SPs must support this process of preservation, not provide ways to undermine it.


When zoning regulations complement the heritage requirements of a District Plan, property owners and developers can feel confident in the predictability of future decision-making regarding land-use matters.

When the opposite is true, when zoning increases the intensification of a property with heritage protections beyond the existing (e.g., building height), this compromises District Plans, often resulting in demolition of heritage properties by neglect, preservation of only façades of heritage properties, or erosion of the context of heritage properties. This then negatively affects neighbouring properties, creating a domino effect, reaching well beyond the boundaries of the redeveloped property.

For example, a developer may argue for increased density from the existing on a property based on zoning (proposing the demolition of existing heritage buildings), while neighbours and heritage advocates counter-argue based on the District Plan provisions. This tension would be decreased if the zoning was better aligned with the District Plan. The heritage district would be less at risk, the community would be afforded more harmony, Planners and Council would be freed of the need to address such difficult decisions, and developers would know where they stand.

ACTION: ensure SPs and zoning regulations complement HCD Plans and their heritage requirements

The City of Kitchener OP provides guidance on additional conservation measures the municipality may use to conserve our built resources. Such as:

Conservation Measures

12.C.1.19.  In addition to listing and designating properties under the Ontario Heritage Act, the City may use and adopt further measures to encourage the protection, maintenance and conservation of the City’s cultural heritage resources including built heritage and significant cultural heritage landscapes . . . These may include, but are not limited to . . . by-laws and agreements pursuant to the Planning Act (Zoning By-law . . .)

In this way, the Official Plan provides the rationale for zoning regulations to complement the heritage requirements of a District Plan.

ACTION: use the Zoning By-law to ensure regulations complement Heritage Conservation District Plans and their heritage requirements

Another idea would be to use the Holding Provisions section of the OP (17.E.13.1.e) as an additional measure to satisfy the policies of the District Plan related to cultural heritage conservation.

ACTION: use Holding Provisions to ensure to Council’s satisfaction that cultural heritage conservation policies are followed

The Zoning By-law, REINS, PARTS and the proposed SPs all suggest that possible future uses of some heritage properties could be more intensive than what’s there now. But District Plans are clear in saying: “There may be rare occasions where infill development or limited integrated redevelopment is possible in the future or where redevelopment is required due to loss of buildings through fire, severe structural decay, . . . or other catastrophic events.”[3] All of these Planning documents have been designed in case these “catastrophic events” occur, to give flexibility so that appropriate rebuilding can take place, not the other way around, not specifically to allow redevelopment.

But developers don’t see it that way. They see a potential redevelopment site and consider its heritage protections last. This is the appropriate time and method to send the message that our built heritage must be protected.

ACTION: make clear statements to the effect that intensification of Zoning designations of heritage properties give flexibility so that appropriate rebuilding can take place in case of catastrophic events, not the other way around, not specifically to allow redevelopment


The purpose of creating a HCD is to protect and manage the heritage character of the neighbourhood as the community evolves. The District Plans provide clear guidance regarding appropriate alteration activities.

The Ontario Heritage Act states:

Consistency with heritage conservation district plan

41.2 (1) Despite any other general or special Act, if a heritage conservation district plan is in effect in a municipality, the council of the municipality shall not,

(a) carry out any public work in the district that is contrary to the objectives set out in the plan; or

(b) pass a by-law for any purpose that is contrary to the objectives set out in the plan.


(2) In the event of a conflict between a heritage conservation district plan and a municipal by-law that affects the designated district, the plan prevails to the extent of the conflict, but in all other respects the by-law remains in full force.

Though proposed Secondary Plans, and through them the Zoning Bylaw, may designate certain properties with higher intensification, if this contravenes the District Plan provisions, the Ontario Heritage Act says, “the plan prevails to the extent of the conflict”.

ACTION: ensure SPs and zoning regulations complement Heritage Conservation District Plans and their heritage requirements in order to be in compliance with the Ontario Heritage Act


The Province of Ontario, through the Provincial Policy Statement, requires that significant CHLs be conserved. The Regional Official Plan directs area municipalities to designate significant CHLs in their OPs and establish policies addressing their conservation and undertake proper planning.  And the City of Kitchener OP states that these CHLs be listed on the Municipal Heritage Register and conserved.

Kitchener’s award-winning report, Cultural Heritage Landscapes, identified 12 established residential neighbourhhods as CHLs, including the four existing HCDs. “Each of these neighbourhoods expresses a high degree of heritage integrity and are representative of planning concepts and housing styles of the period in which they were developed,” explained the report. “Within these neighbourhoods, there is an enormous variety of housing designs. . . None of these neighbourhoods are likely to be constructed again, so any loss or depreciation of these neighbourhoods would be a significant loss to Kitchener’s portfolio of heritage resources.”[4]


The other eight neighbourhoods which include identified CHLs deserve some heritage status and protection, sooner rather than later, by recognizing them in the OP and developing strong guidelines in the SPs to ensure these established neighbourhhods thrive.

ACO NWR is concerned that reference to the full Mount Hope/Breithaupt/Gildner/ Gruhn Neighbourhood CHL was removed from the KW Hospital/Midtown SP. Similarly, the Central Frederick Neighbourhood CHL was removed from the King Street East SP. Another example is the Rockway Neighbourhood, Gardens & Golf Course CHL, with only the tiny sliver of Floral Crescent included on Map 9a, but not mentioned in the Section 16 document. We understand that only parts of a CHL may be within a SP boundary, but waiting until the perfect time to introduce these protections means more time for built heritage resources to be lost or irreparably altered.

ACTION: ensure SPs include protection of CHLs, even if this means a fractured approach to their implementation

The proposed SP policies outline some existing protection tools such as Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA), required for development applications having the potential to impact property of Specific Cultural Heritage Landscape Interest. Whether a CHL is identified in a SP or not, Part IV, Part V and Listed properties within those CHLs already had this protection under the Ontario Heritage Act and the Official Plan.

What is troubling to ACO NWR are the limitations the proposed SP policies suggest for properties located within a CHL which do not already possess heritage status. For these properties, proposed SP policies say the HIA “may be scoped and limited in review to assess visual and contextual impact.” The OP states CHLs must be listed on the Municipal Heritage Register. Our interpretation is that this means every property within a CHL identified in the OP should be considered a Listed property, with the same protections as other Listed properties.

ACTION: ensure CHLs are listed on the Municipal Heritage Register, with every property within the CHL, at minimum, a Listed property

Every property has some cultural heritage value, but not every one is given heritage status, which offers some protection under provincial, regional and municipal rules. Those rules provide a framework, a process where we can identify, evaluate and choose to protect, or not, properties in our municipality.

In its introduction, the City of Kitchener’s Terms of Reference for Heritage Impact Assessments states, “A Heritage Impact Assessment is a study to determine the impacts to known and potential cultural heritage resources within a defined area proposed for future development.”

If the terms of reference of a HIA are scoped, this limits its ability to examine the impact of development on potential cultural heritage properties.

The OP states (12.C.1.4. and 12.C.1.5.): “The City acknowledges that not all of the city’s cultural heritage resources have been identified. Accordingly, a property does not have to be listed or designated to be considered as having cultural heritage value or interest. Through the processing of applications submitted under the Planning Act resources of potential cultural heritage value or interest will be identified, evaluated and considered for listing or designation.”

Why limit the power of the HIA by omitting key sections on some projects? This is an opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up to truly evaluate the cultural heritage potential of properties that are located within a CHL. Chances are good that the potential is there simply by its proximity to other heritage properties.

ACTION: ensure all HIA Terms of Reference require the full scope to identify, evaluate and protect resources of potential cultural heritage value or interest within CHLs


Kitchener has over 65,000[5] individual properties, but only 230 are Listed on the Municipal Heritage Register, just over 1,000 are located in Heritage Conservation Districts and fewer than 90 are Individually Designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. Many of these properties are threatened with redevelopment. It is a limited resource that is gradually being lost. Help us protect the few resources we have.

Those 230 Listed properties are the result of the re-evaluation of the Heritage Kitchener Inventory of Historic Buildings. In the past 15 years, of those original 800 properties, some were Listed, some were properties in HCDs, some were demolished, a few were individually Designated, but many heritage buildings in established neighbourhods, were either not recommended for Listing or Council chose not to List them. These are the properties we mean when we write, “every property has some cultural heritage value, but not every one is given heritage status.” As we pointed out in the introduction, society’s values evolve; perhaps it’s time we develop a process to re-examine those properties which have been deemed not worthy.

ACTION: ensure HIA Terms of Reference require the full scope to re-evaluate and protect resources of potential cultural heritage value or interest, specifically properties previously listed on the Heritage Kitchener Inventory of Historic Buildings

Many of these same ideas can be applied to the SPs which do not affect HCDs, but do cover established neighbourhoods, many containing individually designated (Part IV) and Listed properties. What affect will new proposed zoning designations have on existing built heritage resources? Are appropriate transitions provided?

ACTION: when proposing a SP for established neighbourhoods and those containing individually designated (Part IV) and Listed properties, consider the affect new proposed zoning designations will have on existing built heritage resources and the provision of appropriate transitions

One tool used in some of the proposed SPs which we feel should be used universally when reviewing an established neighbourhood is a map of existing built heritage resources.[6] These maps visually represent the locations of identified heritage resources, making them more accessible to more people.

ACTION: provide mapping of existing built heritage resources for all proposed SP reviews


The Civic Centre Neighbourhood HCD is of considerable significant cultural heritage value given the heritage attributes found within its architecture, streetscape and historical associations. The designation of the Civic Centre Neighbourhood as a HCD was meant to protect and preserve the heritage assets and character that exist in the area. The District Plan provides the planning framework to ensure that future change within the district is both complementary to, and compatible with, the heritage attributes of the area.

The Olde Berlin Town Neighbourhood Association submission regarding the proposed Secondary Plans for the Civic Centre neighbourhood is as comprehensive, well researched and thought out as you will find anywhere. It is available online at:

ACO NWR branch particularly appreciates its use of quotes from the District Plan, such as:

“Maintain the low-density residential character of the Civic Centre Neighbourhood Heritage Conservation District as the predominant land use, while recognizing that certain areas of the District already have or are intended for a wider range of uses.”[7]

Preserve Traditional Setting – A building is intimately connected to its site and to the neighbouring landscape and buildings. Land, gardens, outbuildings and fences form a setting that should be considered during plans for restoration or change. An individual building is perceived as part of a grouping and requires its neighbours to illustrate the original design intent. When buildings need to change there is a supportive setting that should be maintained.”[8]

As has been mentioned previously in this submission, the Olde Berlin Town document points out, “The owners’ enjoyment may be diminished if the overall character, features and zoning of the neighbourhood that supports these uses is removed or compromised. We do not believe it prudent to expect owners to continue to be good stewards of their own property, if the property and neighbourhood no longer provide enjoyment.”

Their submission has three important goals:

  1. promote internally consistent zoning, to ensure uniform protections and benefits under the law, under similar circumstances, while respecting the existing rights and circumstances of individual property owners;
  2. ensure zoning supports the heritage district plan and does not incentivize owners to detract from the neighbourhood context thereby compromising existing uses;
  3. establish rules for transitioning to more intensive zones within and around the neighbourhood.

The submission provides very detailed, specific suggestions for Planning staff. ACO NWR branch suggest these be taken very seriously. We particularly appreciate the ideas behind these suggestions:

#9    that Regulation 13.3. from existing Secondary Plan be retained: “In order to obtain the necessary input to plan on a neighbourhood level, the City shall establish Liaison Committees in neighbourhoods for which Secondary Plans are being prepared. Participation on such Liaison Committees shall be open to all residents and property owners within a planning neighbourhood and other interested parties.”

#12  that Secondary Plan regulation 16.D.9.15 be strengthened by adding “New development or redevelopment within or adjacent to the Heritage District is to be compatible with the context and character of the existing neighbourhood.” We are concerned that the term “overall” within the clause “overall, be compatible with the context and character of the existing neighbourhood” of OP policy 11.C.1.34 d) renders the requirement less meaningful.

#18  that the portion of Queen Street in the district between Weber St W and Margaret Ave be recognized as integral to the heritage district. Unlike Victoria St N, Queen St N is not a Mixed Use Corridor. This portion of Queen St is listed as a “Major Collector Road”, unlike Victoria and Weber, which are Regional Roads.

In addition, after consulting with Olde Town Berlin representatives, we also suggest the following:

ACTION: that any zoning provision that permits greater height or FSR on a property than the existing heritage building may not be used as justification for the demolition of that heritage building


ACTION: while the Olde Berlin Town Neighbourhood Association submission may be specific to the Civic Centre neighbourhood, the overall principles listed above can be applied to all heritage districts

One point of clarification, the Civic Centre Cultural Heritage Landscape is not numbered or identified on Proposed Map 9A Detail indicating Cultural Heritage Resources to be protected by the Official Plan. There may be a reason for this, or perhaps just a minor error.

ACTION: show the Civic Centre CHL on Proposed Map 9A Detail indicating Cultural Heritage Resources to be protected within the OP


We reviewed the presentation made by Victoria Park residents to the December 9, 2019, Council meeting seeking resident input on the Secondary Plan process.

Established in 1896 by the Town of Berlin, now the City of Kitchener, Victoria Park is located on land which had belonged to Lot 17 of the German Company Tract purchased by Joseph Schneider, one of the first Pennsylvania-German farmers in the area. The road Schneider built to link his farm to the main road through the area, now King Street, was first named Schneider Road. When Joseph sold land for the park, named in honour of then British monarch, Queen Victoria, Schneider Road became Queen St S. Today it leads past the fine Mennonite Georgian farmhouse, c 1816, a National Historic Site restored to the mid-19th century period. Schneider extended the road beyond his farm, west to Wilmot Township where lumber from his sawmill was needed for housing for immigrants from Germany arriving in the area from the mid-1820s.

Victoria Park was designed in the English Landscape style. Its main feature is a freshwater lake dredged from Schneider’s mill pond and fed by a small watercourse from the north, Schneider Creek. Many of the residences built around the lake date to the opening of the Park and reflect late Victorian and early 20th century styles. Housing on adjoining streets are more modest dwellings built for workers and their families employed by the industries nearby.

Over the years, development has been vigorous on all sides. Despite its proximity to the City core, it has remained largely intact with its Victorian-era architecture and streetscapes.

The Victoria Park Area HCD provides residents a measure of security that the area will be protected from inappropriate and intrusive developments. Any SP for the area should have zoning provisions that respect the District Plan.

ACTION: ensure SPs and zoning regulations complement HCD Plans and their heritage requirements

Many residents are concerned about protecting established neighbourhoods from the intensification that the region is experiencing. “Many people think we are growing too fast and that we need to slow down,” commented one resident. “Our established neighbourhoods are being unduly pressured by developers, and planning staff agree to their plans because density targets will then be met.”

“We in Victoria Park worry that infill and high rise development surrounding us will have very negative impacts,” explained residents. “It is essential to have buffers to protect low-rise historic districts. Low-rise historic districts near downtown Kitchener are valuable because they give a sense of who we are and our history.”

ACTION: ensure Secondary Plans and zoning regulations provide appropriate transitions between high- and low-density areas

We point to several specific examples from the presentation.

In the current SP review, a large area bounded by Linden Ave, Michael St and Victoria St S has been proposed to be rezoned from Neighbourhood Institutional to Mix 3 (medium to high rise), now containing low rise residential and a church.  Residents believe allowing Mix 3 would significantly change the character of this part of the neighbourhood inside the HCD.

ACTION: ensure Secondary Plans and zoning regulations respect the existing character of the Victoria Park Area HCD

The lots at the corner of David and Joseph Sts are now a parking lot (City-owned) and two low rise residential buildings (20 David St is City-owned).  While this area is zoned Mix 2 (medium rise), the lower heights of the existing buildings are compatible with the majority of Victoria Park.  Residents don’t believe a Mix 2 designation is appropriate, with a possible allowable height of six storeys to replace the existing.  As well, since this area is adjacent to the Park itself, it would significantly change the character of the open space. An alternative, since two of the three lots are City-owned, would be to incorporate these into the Park itself.

ACTION: ensure Secondary Plans and zoning regulations do not allow encroachment onto the open space character of the Park, consider enlarging the Park where possible

Quite often, when interpreting the HCD Plan, consultants and developers point out that the Queen St S area has already had development, as if that’s justification for more high rises to be built there.  ACO NWR agrees that this area has seen a good deal of development, and for that reason we should limit future redevelopment.

ACTION: ensure Secondary Plans and zoning regulations limit development on Queen St S within the HCD boundary in order to protect the heritage character of the area

We are also concerned that part of the Victoria Park Neighbourhood CHL is not included on Map 9a, that section of the CHL and Heritage Conservation District bounded by Benton St, Courtland Ave E, David St, Joseph St, Queen St S and Charles St E, plus three properties on Oak St closest to Victoria St S. These are the properties most at risk from future development.

ACTION: ensure the SPs and Map 9a include the complete Victoria Park Neighbourhood Cultural Heritage Landscape in their protections


We have heard concerns from residents in the Mill Courtland Woodside Park neighbourhood about substantial changes in this proposed SP through removal of three residential areas on the north end, and the addition of a transit station and industrial lands on the south. There will no longer be a Mill Courtland Woodside Park neighbourhood as we know it today.

While the Queen St S properties and Mill Courtland areas will become part of other SPs, there is some concern for the Woodside Park Neighbourhood which will not be part of a SP. It is characterized by low rise residential and historic Woodside Park including the Harry Class pool, a Part IV designated property.

ACTION: protection of the Woodside Park Neighbourhood should be considered within a SP in the event of future development/redevelopment

The entire Cedar Hill & Schneider Creek (CHSC) neighbourhood is part of the Major Transit Station Area, an area of designated intensification. This will put pressure on CHSC and all downtown neighbourhoods. The SPs are intended to provide for a range and mix of uses and identify intensification opportunities in support of ION while ‘protecting the established character of the existing neighbourhoods’. Residents believe this is not the same as protecting the built urban fabric, and fear it could lead to substantial demolition of existing building stock and replacement with inappropriate developments.

ACTION: ensure SP provides a range and mix of uses, while protecting the established character of the existing neighbourhood

The SP proposes two significant CHLs within its boundaries:

  • Cedar Hill & Schneider Creek Neighbourhood CHL
  • Iron Horse Trail CHL

The Secondary Plan identifies unique features of the CHL including Priority Locations at gateways that facilitate views into and out of the neighbourhoods and accentuate the unique topography of Cedar Hill. These and other features are provided with protection measures to maintain the qualities and characteristics of the area.

Specific policies have also been suggested for the Official Plan through the Design in Cultural Heritage Landscapes section. Regarding new development or redevelopment, the City will ensure that CHL features are supported and maintained (11.C.1.34). These are supportive actions for conservation of the neighbourhood. For additions and/or alternations proposed for built cultural heritage resources, the City has identified some prescriptive principles to be followed (11.C.1.35). The four principles speak to conservation of building parts, however, the principles would be clearer and strengthened by referencing national and provincial conservation guidelines.[9] These are valuable and available tools whether a property or building is designated or not.

ACTION: ensure Policies 11.C.1.34 and 11.C.1.35 reference national and provincial conservation standards and guidelines to inform protection measures for additions and/or alterations of built cultural heritage resources

Cultural Heritage Landscapes are vulnerable due to exposure of lands at the edges. The area circled in red, at left on Map 9a Detail, for example, is characterized by unique placement of historic single detached dwellings surrounded on all sides by identified cultural heritage resources: Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District and CHL, the Cedar Hill Schneider Creek CHL and the Iron Horse Trail CHL. The view from Queen St S shows the unique character of the residential cluster and the gateway to Mike Wagner Green along Mill St. Within this turn-of-the century neighbourhood is a designated home (45 Mill St), as well as two homes identified as having cultural heritage value in 2010 (19 and 25 Mill St), but not listed on the Municipal Heritage Register. The area is to be rezoned medium density in the proposed SP. Instead of being celebrated for its unique features and garnering protection through alignment with the adjacent heritage areas as a cultural heritage resource or landscape, the neighbourhood is faced with demolition of six properties at its centre. The historic homes are to be replaced with a proposed 10- or 12-storey development of 176 units. Demolition will destroy the neighbourhood qualities and characteristics. In this situation, infill development behind the homes would have been more appropriate.

ACTION: ensure the cultural heritage landscape features of Mill St be connected to Victoria Park, Schneider Creek and the Iron Horse Trail and provided protection

The ‘scoped HIA study’ approach for the proposed development on Mill St, for example, eliminated the requirement for historical research and statements of significance for 19 and 25 Mill St, which left the properties vulnerable and ultimately subject to demolition. The impact to 45 Mill St, a Part IV designated property, is substantial. The lack of protection will result in demolition of its original neighbourhood context and historic references, and allow a new development that exceeds current and proposed secondary plan zoning in size and scope.

ACTION: ensure HIA Terms of Reference require the full scope to identify, evaluate and protect resources of potential cultural heritage value or interest within CHLs

While the Iron Horse Trail CHL is noted as a resource in the SP, there is no further reference. While the plan is still in progress, it would be worth noting the Iron Horse Trail’s unique features in each neighbourhood area.

ACTION: ensure the Iron Horse Trail is referenced in the SPs, with its Statement of Significance as a whole, as well as its characteristics and features within each neighbourhood and localized protection measures


The story of community planning and development in this neighbourhood has been controversial, to say the least. The 1976 SP designated many of the historic streets, such as Old Mill Dr and Pinnacle Dr, as low density residential. This was reinforced in the 2004 Community Plan which focused on single detached dwellings, minimum 50-foot wide lots, placing permitted semi-detached, duplex and townhouse (not exceeding two stories) developments in specific locations away from the heritage areas, and specifying that more intensive uses must be “compatible in form and height with the low density character of the neighbourhood.”

With the growth of Conestoga College, immense pressure has been placed on this neighbourhood. One continuing theme that was highlighted at the February 4, 2020, community consultation was that “Heritage attributes/character of the neighbourhood is being affected by high number of student rental houses.”

ACTION: ensure low density residential continues to be the desired built form in the Lower Doon SP, while balancing the needs of students

Residents of Old Mill Dr and Pinnacle Dr have asked ACO NWR to emphasize the heritage character of their neighbourhood. These two streets seem to contain the largest number of individual properties with cultural heritage value in Lower Doon, though few have been provided with heritage status or, therefore, protection.

ACTION: ensure that, before the Lower Doon SP is completed, re-evaluation of the individual cultural heritage value of the historic houses on Old Mill Dr and Pinnacle Dr be carried out and appropriate protections be provided

A positive step has been the preparation of the 2019 Cultural Heritage Landscape Evaluation of Lower Doon. In addition to the already identified CHLs, Doon Golf Course, Homer Watson House and Mill Park Dr, two additional CHLs have been proposed by the consultant, Homer Watson Park and Willow Lake Park.

ACTION: ensure identified CHLs are recognized and provided with appropriate protections in the Lower Doon Secondary Plan


ACTION: though this action is not a SP issue, we would also suggest following through with the conservation recommendations of the report


The Central Frederick Neighbourhood is on the pending list for its SP review. Much of the Central Frederick Neighbourhood Cultural Heritage Landscape is located in this neighbourhood, some of it extends into the King East Neighbourhood, where the SP review is currently underway minus any protections for this CHL, and into the Auditorium Neighbourhood, which is not scheduled for review in the near future. These conditions leave this CHL in limbo.

ACTION: ensure SPs include protection of Cultural Heritage Landscapes, even if this means a fractured approach to their implementation


ACO helps and encourages people to nurture our built heritage as an integral part of life today and as a foundation for tomorrow. This will help to create places where our rich past is made a vital and living part of the future. We want to help the community make well informed, timely decisions that make better places for people to live in, work and visit.

Kitchener has its own unique culture and heritage. Our places, spaces and stories are integral to our identity. To paraphrase the Official Plan, Kitchener’s cultural heritage resources are important from a historical and cultural perspective, they are of social, economic, environmental and educational value. They do help to instill civic pride, foster a sense of community, contribute to tourism and stimulate the building renovation industry.

We hear the same complaint over and over again from residents, “The process is the problem – developers purchasing blocks of homes causing disruption to neighbourhoods, requesting more than permitted zoning, FSR, height, coverage, etc.”

ACO North Waterloo Region branch welcomes a full discussion of the issues.  Over the past 40 years of our branch’s existence, we have seen many heritage properties destroyed and many saved, the latter, in part through our efforts.  We know our communities well and have been involved in the creation of HCDs, which we believe are the core of Kitchener’s heritage and history.  HCDs need to have significant, strong and consistent consideration when development is proposed within and adjacent to them.

Please consider these ideas that emphasize a stable sense of place, that encourage a viable and secure community, all ideas contained within our Official Plan.

Thank you for your consideration,

Marg Rowell

President, ACO NWR

Submitted electronically: Monday, May 25, 2020


To:     Tina Malone-Wright, Senior Planner, Policy,

Cc:     Councillor Debbie Chapman, (St. Mary’s HCD, Victoria Park HCD, Cedar Hill & Schneider Creek, King Street East)

Councillor John Gazzola, (Heritage Kitchener)

Councillor Sarah Marsh, (Civic Centre Neighbourhood HCD, Central Frederick, King Street East)

Councillor Christine Michaud, (Upper Doon HCD, Lower Doon Neighbourhood)

Leon Bensason, Coordinator, Cultural Heritage Planning,

[1] Civic Centre Neighbourhood HCD, Upper Doon HCD & Victoria Park Area HCD

[2] Central Frederick (pending), Doon-Pioneer Park, Mount Hope-Breithaupt, Mill-Courtland, Olde Berlin Town & Victoria Park

[3] City of Kitchener Civic Centre Neighbourhood Heritage Conservation District Plan, August 2007, pgs 3.7-3.8

[4] City of Kitchener Cultural Heritage Landscapes, December 2014, pg 11

[5] Statistic provided 19 Feb 2020 by Information Technology-GIS staff, “If Right of Way category is excluded (roads, walkway blocks, etc.) then the ballpark figure would be 65,000 remaining parcels.

[6] See Proposed Cedar Hill & Schneider Creek Secondary Plan & Lower Doon Neighbourhood Planning Review

[7] City of Kitchener Civic Centre Neighbourhood Heritage Conservation District Plan, August 2007, pg 3.2

[8] ibid, pg 3.4

[9] e.g., The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada, Parks Canada: 2010

A hard stop to new development in heritage areas

Presented to:

Planning and Strategic Initiatives Meeting, City of Kitchener

December 9, 2019

by Adam Smit

Lonely Planet recommends to its readers to “just pass through (Kitchener) on your way to Elora and Fergus, St Jacobs or Stratford” (1). Why not visit Kitchener? What do people want to see? When we look at Paris, France, Lonely Planet first mentions “Paris’ monument-lined boulevards, museums, classical bistros and boutiques…” (2). Its heritage architecture and charm is how Paris has become the world’s second most visited city in the world (3). Of course, the city didn’t get there overnight. For one-and-a-half centuries, it has strictly regulated its Hausmanian architecture, requiring owners to keep up their buildings and to renovate them according to stringent guidelines. Likewise, if Kitchener wants to be recommended as more than a “pass through” for visitors, Kitchener should put a hard stop to new development in heritage areas — going so far as to require owners to keep up their houses and to even expand heritage areas.

Economically, heritage features are attractions for visitors, bringing in financial benefit to communities. According to U.S. News, 18 of the top 20 sights in Paris were historical sites. (4) Overall, in France, “9.7% of the GDP is contributed by the travel and tourism sector” (5). Here in Kitchener, we have a golden opportunity to develop these opportunities for our economic benefit. Our historic downtown and Victoria Park neighbourhoods are the milieu for the “best time to visit…festival time” (6) It is not just the festivals that can draw people here, but the historic character of our downtown neighbourhoods. But how do we maintain them?

In Paris, people fall in love with the Hausmanian architecture: 5-6 stories, limestone buildings, mansard roofs, period features, and consistency across the city. Considering these buildings were built from 1853 to 1870, we have to ask how the city has preserved these buildings so well as to attract so many visitors? The city has strict building codes requiring owners to keep up their buildings as well as renovate them according to heritage features and requirements.

Likewise, Kitchener should uphold strict preservation criteria for its heritage neighbourhoods and downtown districts. In contrast to current trends, where the city allows properties at the fringes of heritage areas to be torn down and rebuilt in whichever fashion, the city should be demanding that property owners rebuild to the standards of the era (where, of course, choice was and should continue to be allowed: queen anne, victorian, edwardian, berlin vernacular,…) Currently, properties at the edges of the Victoria Park heritage district are being torn down and modern developments are being allowed to be build, encroaching upon our historic neighbourhood. This is not preservation! This is not heritage! Rather, delinquent owners need to be required to rebuild  buildings in the style of the era…the two houses recently torn down on David St., Bara castle, the current proposal on Mill St. (the current houses should stay!), Joseph & Water. Modern developments should not be encroaching into our heritage areas, but instead have their place everywhere else in the city.

If we have the vision and the courage of our convictions, we can improve upon and even expand our heritage area by protecting our properties and enforcing historical architecture. Instead of our heritage areas getting squeezed by modern buildings, we could push to expand current heritage areas. At the very least, if we can’t save them because of their beauty or their defining contribution to our identity, we could at least save them for the economic benefits they will help attract to our city.








Presentation to Planning and Strategic Initiatives Meeting, City of Kitchener by Gail Pool

The City of Kitchener is undertaking a review of the Secondary Plans for the Central Neighbourhoods:

    1. Cedar Hill and Schneider Creek
    2. Civic Centre
    3. King Street East
    4. K-W Hospital/Midtown
    5. Mill Courtland Woodside Park
    6. Rockway
    7. Victoria Park
    8. Victoria Street

The meeting on December 9th was to inform residents of changes to their zoning and to hear from residents about the changes.  Over 4,000 letters were sent to residents who were informed that they needed to provide written comments by December 9, 2019.

The Council Chamber was packed to overflowing and about 30 delegations presented their views.

Below are the slides and speaking notes presented by Gail Pool


I am a resident of Victoria Park inside the Heritage Conservation District

SLIDE 2: Covers of Design for Central Neighbourhoods

The document presented in February for a design charette was entitled: Design for Central Neighbourhoods (dated February 14, 2019)

A revised title appeared a few days later: Design for Residential Infill in Central Neighbourhoods

 The word “infill” was added by Planning Staff, suggesting a direction for our neighbourhood.

We in Victoria Park worry that infill and high rise developments surrounding us will have very negative impacts.

SLIDE 3: Image of Central Park

The re-named document states that we will have “pockets of low-rise, historical residential neighbourhoods” around the city centre.

(Design for Residential Infill in Central Neighbourhoods, p. 1)

SLIDE 4: Map of Central Kitchener (Urban Design Manual, Downtown, p. 10)

I am concerned with the phrase “pockets of low-rise… neighbourhoods.”

The core is surrounded by low-rise neighbourhoods dating back to the 19th century — everywhere on this map in light green.

If there is a pocket, it is the downtown core.

It is essential to have buffers to protect the low-rise historic districts.

Two houses were demolished next to Schneider Haus and six houses on Mill Street have no protection despite meeting criteria for heritage status under Reg. 09/06 of the Heritage Act.

Low rise, historic districts near downtown Kitchener are valuable because they give a sense of who we are and our history.

And our history attracts tourists from all over.

 Following discussions with residents of Victoria Park, we need:

  1. Protection within and adjacent to the Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District
  2. Transitions between the high and low density areas
  3.  Adequate park and open space

SLIDE 5: Image of area at David and Joseph

Specifically, the area at David and Joseph is at risk. Proposed zoning is MIX 2, allowing a 6 storey building.

Currently, there are low-rise homes and a parking lot owned by the city. Here is an opportunity to downgrade the area to Low Rise Residential Limited, in accordance with Section 16 of the Draft Secondary Plan Land Use Policies.

Alternatively, it could be zoned OR-1, or park space, which we need more of in light of the many new condos being built nearby.

SLIDE 6 View from Park with high rises

Do we want the park to look like this?

SLIDE 7: High rises at Charles/Gaukel/Joseph and Ontario

Page 11 of the Urban Design Manual, Downtown, shows five high-rise buildings in the Charles and Gaukel area.

We need to protect zones close to the park, not build on them.

The former bus terminal could be turned into a plaza or an extension of the park.

Another example is on Michael Street.

SLIDE 8: Image of Ukrainian Catholic Church and Centre

Here, the Ukrainian Church and Catholic Centre are at risk.

Currently zoned I-1, Neighbourhood Institutional, it is proposed to be MIX 3, allowing an 8 storey high-rise.

This is inside the Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District!

High-rises should not be built in heritage districts.

Rather, this could be a parkette for the three high-rises built or under construction right across the street.

SLIDE 9: Image of Homewood/Iron Horse Trail

Another area of concern is Homewood street, which currently has no protection because it is outside the Heritage District.

Some homes here have 300-foot lot depths.

A few houses could be bought and a high rise put there….

As is proposed on Mill Street.

We need to be very cautious planning within and around old neighbourhood districts.

SLIDE 10: List of Victoria Park Issues

Finally, Victoria Park residents engaged in a design charette in February organized by the City of Kitchener.

Here are some of their ideas.


  1. What I am suggesting is a plan that better protects low-rise established neighbourhoods and provides essential park and open space for all residents.
  2. In short, only four storey building should be allowed in established neighbourhoods.

Demolition of 25 Mill Street for Proposed Development

A development at 19-41 Mill Street in Kitchener proposes the demolition of two late 19th century homes.  One of these was the home of Jacob Baetz, an early furniture manufacturer and city councillor in the 1890s.

There are two documents below.

The first is a statement of significance from the heritage planning staff at the City of Kitchener.   Planning staff asked residents to comment on the proposal.

The second is a response to the City of Kitchener Planning department from Gail Pool and Frances Stewart about the proposed development.  They do not necessarily represent the position of the ACO.

Note that the documents in boxes are several pages long.  Click anywhere inside the boxes and use the arrows at the bottom to scroll through the pages.


25 Mill Street Statement of Significance 

25 Mill Street_Statement of Significance_2009 October 27


Response from Gail Pool and Frances Stewart

19-41 Mill Street Property Comments Gail Pool and Frances Stewart

ACO Presentation to Heritage Kitchener re: 30-40 Margaret Street Development

The ACO was asked by The Olde Berlin Town Neighbourhood Association to help them understand how the development at 30-40 Margaret might affect the Heritage Conservation District.


The basis of our presentation is (1) the Civic Centre Neighbourhood District Plan should be more closely adhered to than is proposed by the developer because of how important this site is to the character of the District; (2) the proposed building stepbacks are not adequate to meet the requirements of the site specific policies and guidelines, including the possible isolation of 54 Margaret.


The pdf document below explains what we felt would ensure that the character of the District is conserved.  We believe that the role of the ACO is to have public discussion of the issues that affect built heritage.

For more see Submissions to the 30-40 Margaret Heritage Impact Assessment Review on the Olde Berlin Town Neighbourhood Association’s blog.

Note: Once the pdf document loads, you will see only the first page.  Click on any text on this page and you should see in the bottom left corner that there are 8 pages.  Use the down arrow for the remaining part of the document.


ACO Presentation to Heritage Kitchener, June 4 2019

We Need Your Help!

The ACO Provincial Policy Committee wants you to respond to the call for comments from the Provincial Government on Bill 108. The Government of Ontario has proposed changes to the Ontario Heritage Act through Bill 108.

Part of Bill 108 proposes changes to the Ontario Heritage Act. We need to speak out against this flawed proposal right away.  June 1 is the deadline for comments and the government wants to pass the Bill by June 11.

Our concern is that Bill 108 would take away local communities’ right to say what is important to them, and what parts of the past the community values and wishes to pass on to future generations.

It would give this authority to the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT), who can undo the work of democratically elected councils — and the Municipal Heritage Committees and trained heritage planning staff who support them. LPAT will have the final say on approving, revoking or amending heritage protection bylaws.

Compounding the problem: No current LPAT members have any background in heritage. Nor are they required to have heritage expertise or an understanding of the values of the community they are judging.

We don’t need this radical departure. The current regulations 9/06 and 10/06 work. They provide criteria that help ensure decision made by communities on heritage properties are objective and consistent across Ontario. The specialist Conservation Review Board (CRB) reviews municipalities’ work and provides an expeditious, low-cost alternative to lengthy LPAT appeals. Don’t change a rule book that’s working.

What’s the rush? Take time to properly consult with the heritage and municipal sectors and get this right.

Take Schedule 11, Ontario Heritage Act, out of Bill 108.

What you can do:

  • Review an unofficial blacklined version of the Ontario Heritage Act, with the proposed amendments, prepared by Osler Hoskin Harcourt LLP.
  • Leave an officially registered comment through the online consultation of the Environmental Registry of Ontario. But hurry! The deadline for comments is June 1.
  • Express your concern about these arbitrarily imposed changes to the Ontario Heritage Act to your local MPP.  Check here for your local MP’s contact information.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper.

Thank you –  if you have questions, please contact Alex MacKinnon at

For a plain language description of Bill 108, click here.