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Puslinch moving forward with heritage designations despite objections

The issue will return to the township's Heritage Committee in May, preceded by an Open House in April

PUSLINCH – Council has decided to move forward with the heritage designation process for almost 20 properties in the township despite the protests of some property owners. 

Presented with three options which included retracting its notice of intention to designate, council affirmed its decision to proceed with the designation process for all 17 priority properties identified as having cultural heritage value or interest during a meeting earlier this week, despite three objections from property owners of 4492 Watson Rd. S., 32 Brock Rd. N. and 43 McClintock Dr. 

Submitting detailed objection letters to council before the meeting, all three owners said they also value the heritage aspects of their properties but are concerned about the financial implications and what the designation could mean for their property values.

There were also comments about poor communication and transparency from township staff. 

"My family and I have put a significant amount of our life savings into this property and we fear that the designation...would harm the financial security of our family's future," said Manan Trivedi, the clinic director and owner of Aberfoyle Chiropractic and Wellness at 32 Brock Road, in his letter. 

"We are neighbours, we are not just a mosquito in the township’s tent...we feel like we’re being swatted at to get out of the tent," said Paul and Jamie Kreutzwiser owners of 4492 Watson Road South, in their letter. 

But council said while they appreciated the sentiments shared in the letters, they intend to engage in a dialogue with property owners over the next couple of months and are hopeful this will address their concerns.

“The designation of heritage properties within Puslinch essentially means we have the desire to preserve our cultural heritage…I don’t want to diminish the wishes of a heritage owner but part of this is bigger than the owner right now," said Coun. Sara Bailey, during the meeting. "A heritage property has representation within the whole community….and I think we need to think really carefully about not designating properties.”

However, Coun. John Sepulis opposed the motion because he felt two of the properties, 4492 Watson Rd South and 32 Brock Rd North, have a low risk of demolition, the current owners are "likely going to be there for a while yet" and there should be time to re-designate five years down the line.

Sepulis supported designating 43 McClintock Drive and said he didn't see a compelling reason that it would not be demolished in the future. 

"It's clear the people who own these places care about their concern is that yes, the people living there now are the right people but you never know what the future will bring," said Mayor James Seeley, responding to Sepulis' concerns. 

Any person who objected can appeal the process within 30 days of receiving a notice of decision. 

An overview of the proposed Heritage Permit Process will be provided at a Heritage Designation Open House on April 11, which is open for general attendance from the public and invitations have been sent directly to affected property owners. 

The draft bylaw will come before the Heritage Advisory Committee's Meeting for comments on May 6. 

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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