Local heritage preservation takes a leap forward

Planet Realty Inc.Downtown Guelph, Real Estate News, Uncategorized

south-shore-of-the-speed-river-guelphFor those in favour of preserving the historic Brooklyn area south of the Speed River, rest assured that area’s charm and allure will be protected forever.

With a recent ruling being handed down from the Ontario Municipal Board, dismissing an appeal against it- Brooklyn & College Hill has become Guelph’s first heritage designated neighbourhood. This measure extends the reach of heritage protections from individual properties to a blanket over the entire radius. All in all, the new district envelopes about 160 properties, which will now face increased scrutiny when it comes to changing elements of the homes’ facade or structural components.

This measure can be heralded as a victory for community purists who want to ensure the aesthetics of the community are ever-lasting; however, there are others who, from a resale perspective, may shy away from inheriting the strict regulation. This could have an impact on salability within the neighbourhood, but no explicit positive or negative influence on values- that remains to be seen.

This landmark measure for the city is precedent setting and could easily lead to more, similar designations being handed down for other areas within the city, such as in the St. George’s Park or Exhibition Park neighbourhoods, where stately older homes represent a large share of the housing mix.

For the full details, an excerpt from the Guelph Tribune is below:

“Guelph establishes its first heritage district”, Doug Hallett, Jan 26, 2016.

Guelph’s first heritage conservation district is now officially in place after the Ontario Municipal Board dismissed an appeal against it. But where the city’s next heritage district might be is up in the air.

“There are several older neighborhood areas of the city that have potential as heritage conservation districts,” says Stephen Robinson, the city’s senior heritage planner.

However, the city’s planning department “has not yet determined any priority area” to recommend for initiation of a heritage conservation district study process, he said in an email Friday responding to a Tribune query.

During the lengthy study and approval process for Guelph’s first heritage conservation district, city council members spoke of it as likely being the first of a number of such districts in Guelph.

The now-official Brooklyn and College Hill Heritage Conservation District includes the area where the Speed and Eramosa rivers converge, takes in the historic Brooklyn neighbourhood south of the river and extends along Gordon Street to near the university. It takes in 160 properties within this area, which extends north of College Avenue to the northern edge of Royal City Park along Gordon Street and includes some residential properties west of Gordon Street, bound by Mary Street and Forbes Avenue.

Council gave almost unanimous final approval to the heritage district on Sept. 8, 2014, but an appeal to the OMB delayed the regulations associated with the designation from coming into effect. The appeal was filed by Larry Favero, Michael Lackowicz and The Chandler Company Ltd., which is a Guelph-based firm involved in restoration, heritage and modern new-build projects.

The OMB agreed the city met all requirements of the Ontario Heritage Act in designating the district, a city news release said Thursday. As a result of the OMB decision, the Brooklyn and College Hill Heritage Conservation District is now officially designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.

“The Brooklyn and College Hill Heritage Conservation District is the first area in our city to have its properties’ cultural heritage features recognized and protected,” Robinson said in the release. The designation, he said, “allows for new construction, alterations or demolitions on properties in the district, provided the neighbourhood’s cultural heritage is conserved.”

Property owners in the heritage district now will need to get a heritage permit from city hall if they want to change, erect or demolish any building or structure on their property, although “this may not be necessary for minor changes,” the release said.

They will also need a heritage permit to remove trees larger than 20 centimetres in diameter that “contribute to the heritage value or visual character of the district – for example, a tree with branches that overhang the street,” the release said.

Properties bordering the heritage district are not subject to the Brooklyn and College Hill Heritage Conservation District Plan and Guidelines, the release said. However, “if development or site changes are planned on neighbouring land, the property owner may need to submit a cultural heritage resource impact assessment, as outlined in the city’s Official Plan.”

A heritage conservation district designation allows a municipality to “manage and guide future change in the area by conserving, protecting and enhancing its special character,” the release said.

The Brooklyn and College Hill Heritage Conservation District is different in some respects from the one initially recommended by consultants hired by the city.

Homeowners on James Street East fought during 2012 against including their street in the Brooklyn and College Hill heritage district, and the final boundary by council in December 2012 excluded all property east of Gordon Street in the James Street East area. The final boundary excluded 220 Gordon St., a mid-19th century limestone building at the corner of Gordon and James. It also excluded 22 James St. E, which was a power station for the Toronto Suburban Railway until 1931, when the electrical commuter railway ceased operation in Guelph.

Because of its association with the Toronto Suburban Railway, the James Street East area was one of the four areas originally identified as “distinctive” parts of the proposed heritage district.

The city’s consultants also initially recommended that the Wellington Street Dam, which creates a scenic pond near historic Gow’s Bridge and enhances boating in the area, be included in the heritage district. However, the inclusion of the 58-year-old dam dam met with some opposition, and council agreed in December 2012 to exclude the dam from the heritage district. This exclusion means the issue of whether or not the dam should be demolished will be based on a later examination of various factors to be studied during an environmental assessment, council was told at the time.