The Architectural Conservancy Ontario (ACO) North Waterloo Region branch would like to share a few thoughts on the development proposal for 22 Weber Street West in Kitchener.
Heritage Conservation Districts (HCD) are created after much consultation with area residents, plus expertise from City planning staff and paid consultants. Boundaries are carefully and thoughtfully delineated to preserve our built heritage and provide stability for an area deemed worth protecting, often one thought to be under threat in future.
The Civic Centre Neighbourhood HCD is of 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 Civic Centre Neighbourhood HCD Plan provides clear direction for new construction, including new buildings on Weber Street West. The Plan indicates that potential infill or redevelopment along Weber could have a negative impact on the heritage character of the area if not undertaken in a sensitive manner, particularly as this street contains nearly half of the oldest buildings in the District.
The Plan states one of its goals is to provide policies and design guidelines to ensure new development and alterations are sensitive to the heritage attributes and details of the District.
Policies include, maintaining residential streetscape character through the use of appropriate built form, materials, roof pitches and architectural design. Where redevelopment is proposed on vacant or underutilized sites, new development shall be sensitive to and compatible with adjacent heritage resources on the street with respect to height, massing, built form and materials.
Design Guidelines provide assistance in the review and evaluation of proposals for new buildings to ensure that new development is compatible with the adjacent context. These include the requirement to match setback, footprint, size and massing patterns of the neighbourhood, particularly to the immediately adjacent neighbors; and the use of materials, colours and traditional details that represent the texture and palette of the Civic Centre Neighbourhood.
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. This negatively affects neighbouring properties, creating a domino effect, reaching well beyond the boundaries of the redeveloped property.
ACO believes the development proposal for 22 Weber Street West will have a negative impact on the heritage character of the Civic Centre Neighbourhood Heritage Conservation District; it will not be sensitive to nor compatible with adjacent heritage resources; and it does not attempt to match setback, footprint, size and massing patterns of the neighbourhood, particularly to the immediately adjacent neighbors, nor use materials, colours and traditional details that represent the texture and palette of the Civic Centre Neighbourhood.
Thank you for your consideration,