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Puslinch defers designating three heritage properties ... again

Council is hopeful giving homeowners more time will help them to understand the designation process better and become supportive of their properties being designated

PUSLINCH – Council has deferred designating three heritage properties in response to objections from homeowners. 

Despite staff extending the designation process "to the very last opportunity," councillors approved deferring designating three registered heritage properties during a Puslinch council meeting earlier this week to give property owners more time to understand and hopefully come on board with the designation process.

While interim CAO Courtenay Hoytfox said the engagement staff and the council have done so far is “above and beyond” what is required under the act, she said the town can facilitate further educational engagement to "ensure that there's full understanding, whether (property owners) want the opportunity or not."

Council previously stood by its decision to designate three heritage properties: 4492 Watson Rd. S., 32 Brock Rd. N. and 43 McClintock Dr. during a meeting in March because they intended to engage in a dialogue with property owners and were hopeful it would address any ongoing concerns. 

According to Bill 23, any property not designated on the township heritage registry will be removed by Jan. 1, 2025.

One of the objectors, Manan Trivedi, the clinic director and owner of Aberfoyle Chiropractic and Wellness at 32 Brock Road said his property's lack of designation was a factor when he purchased the property and delegated during the council meeting to ask for more time to understand the process and its impact on his family's financial future. 

But some councillors said they feel property owners have had adequate time to understand the process and advocated for designating the properties now. 

“(Our March meeting) was to allow extra time to have these conversations and when there wasn’t a lot of uptick on it, it makes me wonder why delaying it further will give us more uptick but we can try it and see," said Coun. Sara Bailey, during the meeting. "But if we keep pushing some of these things down the road like…we need to kinda get going on things.” 

Bailey asked if there was a new way to engage with the residents and educate them on the heritage designation process. 

Coun. Russel Hurst agreed with Bailey, saying he feels the property owners have had "ample time" and his position is that these properties will be designated at some point before the end of 2024. 

"The key aspect of why we’re (deferring) this is to allow the homeowners time to show good faith and make sure they fully understand the ramifications of what’s going on here," said Hurst. 

Mayor James Seeley said "this will be the last push" to educate homeowners on the designation process. 

Staff said council will likely reapply to designate all three properties in June or July. 

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

About the Author: Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Isabel Buckmaster covers Wellington County under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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