Heritage protection has been in the news lately but not in a positive light. The Wilson Farmhouse is a case study of reactive not proactive heritage preservation efforts and how much more difficult it is. If the Wilson Farmhouse had been incorporated into the subdivision plan, as is best practice today, we would not be having this conflicted community debate this week.
In contrast, the draft Brooklyn and College Hill Heritage Conservation District Plan and Guidelines were released last week to the public and will be placed on the June 9 Council meeting. No decision will be made at this meeting. Council will hear delegations on the draft plan and guidelines, ask questions of staff for clarification and identify potential issues that might need to be addressed. Further public input will be sought prior to it coming back to Council for final consideration. Council has approved the boundary for this heritage conservation district as well as proceeding with the development of a draft plan and guidelines.
Why protect heritage?
Our heritage tells the story of our community. Our heritage is part of our identity as a city; it makes us unique and distinguishes us from other places. Our heritage helps to create a sense of place and that is important because research tells us that communities with a strong sense of place are safer, more connected and have a healthier and more resilient local economy.
Why is the Brooklyn and College Hill area being considered?
The desire to protect heritage in this part of our city was identified during the engagement to develop a community improvement plan for the area. There is an interest in the neighbourhood to ensure future development respects the heritage character of this area.
Why is a Heritage Conservation District proposed?
The best method to protect clusters of heritage resources and ensure that compatible development occurs is to designate a heritage conservation district. Heritage Conservation Districts are a tool provided to municipalities through the Ontario Heritage Act. The Brooklyn and College Hill area has been confirmed as an excellent candidate for a Heritage Conservation District because of the high number of important architectural, natural and cultural resources and the distinctive time and character in Guelph’s history represented by this area.
You can learn more about what a heritage conservation district is on the city’s website. The plan and guidelines describe how it is proposed to work.