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Heritage Guelph calls for more protection, proactive enforcement

Advisory committee calls on council to enact and enforce strengthened property standards for properties on the municipal heritage registry
20211009 797 Victoria Road North Guelph RV
The circa. 1840 stone farmhouse at 797 Victoria Rd. N. is being dismantled.

Less than a week after demolition of an 1840 stone farmhouse got underway, Heritage Guelph wants city council to do more to protect heritage properties.

In motions unanimously approved by the advisory committee on Tuesday afternoon, city council is urged to create and enforce an enhanced property standards bylaw for all properties on the municipal registry of heritage properties, as well as to proactively enforce that bylaw.

As it stands, property standards are enforced on a complaint-driven basis. Committee member James Smith, who brought forward the motions, referred to that process as “inadequate” in protecting built heritage.

Krista Walkey, the city’s manager of planning and building services, told the committee she’d discuss the motions with the operations manager and return to Heritage Guelph with information about how to “advance that recommendation forward.” 

Smith mentioned he wanted to put a couple motions on the floor following an update from staff regarding the former-registered heritage property at 797 Victoria Ave. N., then made reference to “recent experiences” when bringing his motions forward.

On Sept. 27, city council agreed to remove that property from the municipal registry and approve its demolition, after the city fire chief issued a demolition order out of concern for arson and the potential for loss of life.

However, the legitimacy of that decision was called into question when it was revealed Heritage Guelph wasn’t consulted, as required under the Ontario Heritage Act. Council held an emergency meeting on Sept. 30 to potentially reconsider that motion, though that was defeated and the original motion left standing.

A second emergency council meeting was held Oct. 6 to deal with controversy from the first emergency meeting.

In the end, council’s Sept. 27 motion was again confirmed.



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Richard Vivian

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