You will find my answers below to a municipal election survey from the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO). But first let me share my background and my heritage priorities if elected.
In addition to my Honours BA in Canadian history, I have been active for years as a community advocate on heritage issues.
In 2010, I was a leading voice in efforts to prevent the demolition of four buildings on the second block of the Lang Tannery complex. While we lost three buildings, I am happy that we saved the Hide House that recently became home to Deloitte’s local office. It is an excellent example of adaptive reuse.
When the city owned the Mayfair Hotel and left it empty and unused for years, I urged the city to be proactive in giving the building new life. So I was pleased when it was resold, urged the developer to get started and happy when work started. So I was devastated by the news of the emergency demolition order. I joined those fighting to save the buildings by urging the city to consult engineers and architects with heritage expertise before demolishing the building. It is good that subsequently, the city adopted new procedures to be used in a similar situation.
When learned about the Mayfair’s fate, I vowed, “Never again.” So I started raising awareness that, despite being owned by the city, the former Legion building at 48 Ontario St. N. had sat empty, unused and unloved for more than 15 years. That led to the formation of the Friends of 48 Ontario that arranged for the “birthplace of the blues in Kitchener” to be in Doors Open Waterloo Region in 2016. These efforts prompted the city to make a decision on the building’s future. It was sold for $1.5 million and is currently being adaptively reused as part of a larger development.
For several years, I have been on the organizing team for Jane’s Walks Waterloo Region that always includes some heritage walks. I have twice led a walk featuring some of the Central Frederick neighbourhood heritage which was also available on my old blog as a self-guided website. I’ve also enjoyed several heritage walks including around Bridgeport this year and last year around the former community of German Mills which is now part of Kitchener’s Ward 3.
I joined the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) a couple years ago though my membership is currently lapsed.
My heritage priorities if elected
Kitchener had a backlog of undesignated properties on its heritage list. I understand progress has been made on addressing the backlog but this may still be a priority. Moving forward on the cultural heritage landscape process is definitely a priority.
I look forward to working together with the local heritage community to make Kitchener the best place to live, work and play.
2018 ACO Municipal Election Survey
Support for 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?
Would you encourage Council to support your Municipal Heritage Committee’s requests for Listing non-designated properties on the Municipal Heritage Register?
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?
Kitchener has a heritage grant program. I’m interested in learning if it could be improved and how.
Would you encourage Council to ensure your municipality has a heritage property tax refund program and that the funding levels are adequate?
Kitchener already allows owners of designated properties to apply for up to 40% property tax refund (which is the maximum allowed under provincial legislation). I support maintaining that refund.
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?
Yes, absolutely. I participated in the City of Kitchener’s heritage landscape consultations.
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?
I like the quote, “the greenest building is the one already standing.” While there are exceptions, it is proven to be true because the energy and materials used have already been used. So yes, I prefer to continue to use or adapt for re-use existing city buildings or to make them available for other public sector organizations to do so.
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 am open to having this discussion. While I support the idea in principle, I am interested in learning more about this issue especially our local experience.