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May 04, 2009

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If a property has undeniable heritage value then some restrictions may apply. What is problematic about this process is that it is flawed and a great many properties are inaccurately designated.

I used to live in two of the houses on the list and can attest to the fact that, in both cases, the details noted on the "list" are wrong. In one case, the "list" states that an entire storey was added. This is simply not true and it is unbelievable as to how anyone could suggest this. In the other case, the "list" states that the windows are original and of some importance. In fact, the windows are replacements installed sometime in the 1960's. Neither is a trivial mistake. And presumably, other errors were also made.

My understanding is that the "list" was amassed by Frank Burcher and Peter Stokes wandering the city, looking at buildings from the outside. The Burcher-Stokes process updates an earlier process undertaken by Gordon Couling yet "some properties included in the Couling Inventory are absent from the Burcher-Stokes Inventory and vice-versa." Even given different designation criteria, properties designated (earlier) by Couling should be on the (later) Burcher-Stokes Inventory … but many are not. Exactly how much time was devoted by Burcher and Stokes in assessing each property? Did Burcher and Stokes have 100% agreement on every property? Would others, using the same criteria – whatever they may actually be - come to the same conclusions?

The City is wandering down a very dangerous road here if it thinks it can limit rights based on a very flawed assessment process.

DC - In completing his inventory, Couling simply listed all buildings built before 1927 (Guelph's 100th anniversary).
Some of these properties were not on the B-S inventory because they did not include properties based solely on age.
Having said that, Joan Jylanne acknowledged at council Burcher and Stokes did not document what heritage criterion was met by each inventoried property.
Despite assurances at the meeting that every property owner on the list must be aware of it, I suspect many will be surprised to see their homes listed there.

Scott:What exactly is the criterion/criteria for heritage designation;seems to me it's the old "...eye of the beholder..." and probably was set,if in fact it/any exist,by a remarkably few number of interlopers/meddlers/gentrificationites,living in or proximate to the money-eating "Downtown"?

I looked for a more recent blog about heritage properties but couldn't find a suitable one, so my apologies for dragging up this one from so long ago ...

So, given the City's decision to tear down the historic Hammill Brothers plant on Farquhar Street to make way for the new train station, I wonder if this wise Council will allow Mr. Cleveland to tear down his small garage/shoe repair shop. Only seems fair.

and in return will Mr. Cleveland offer the community something as significant as Go or will he just build himself a garage?

So, the ends justify the means, Molly? The rules for everyone can be broken by some if they provide a good enough reason for doing so? Why should Mr. Cleveland have to "offer" anything?

The precedent will be set, presumably, by Council when they vote to allow this large downtown factory to be demolished. I don't have a problem with that.

I do have a problem with the City handcuffing Mr. Cleveland's private property ownership rights by asserting - what many argue - is trivial historical significance of his property.

That the City now sees fit to destroy another, much larger, historical property simply underscores the hypocritical and arbitrary nature of the listing and designation process itself.

There is no rule that says "no old buildings shall ever be demolished". The city is NOT breaking any rules.

The heritage report that is available online says the most important part of the whole Hammill Bros. industrial site on Farquhar Street is the Drill Hall or the Drill Shed. So the GO people and city have said that this original building is being protected and designated and restored. The rest of the brick/cinder block add-on is something that is up for interpretation.

While it would be great to save and restore every single piece of Guelph's history, it's just not possible. Picking and choosing what to save is tough. So if there is only one intact shoe shop left in the Ward, it should be saved. If there were 10, then choose the best 1 or 2 of them. But they're all gone, except Mr. Clevelands.

"interpretation", interesting word, Bill.

"So if there is only one intact shoe shop left in the Ward, it should be saved." ... so says you, Bill, but what exactly gives you or the City that right?

nobody has clearly argued why historical preservation outweighs current property rights. does nobody else feel any concern for Cleveland? by all accounts he is 100% innocent here, he just happened to not be told the building he was buying was of some interpreted importance. did the City kick any money his way to help protect his important building? I might have more understanding if they did more than just say "thou shalt not ..."

People always talk about property rights", but do such rights actually exist, legally, in Canada?

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Joanne

Joanne Shuttleworth is the newsroom lead in municipal affairs coverage for the Guelph Mercury. She is a former Guelph YWCA Woman of Distinction honouree and a past winner of an Ontario Newspapers Award for her work as an editor. You can reach her at jshuttleworth@guelphmercury.com

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About Chris

  • Chris Herhalt
    covers municipal affairs and politics for the Guelph Mercury. Prior to joining the Mercury he worked at The Record of Waterloo Region and at The Canadian Press. He can be reached at cherhalt@guelphmercury.com