Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pre-order the Heritage Conservation District Study Reports

Queen Street Heritage Conservation District , St. Catharines Ontario

Over the past year with funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, branches of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) and Historical Societies have partnered with the Heritage Resources Centre (HRC) at the University of Waterloo to undertake a province wide research program to answer the question: have Heritage Conservation Districts in Ontario been successful heritage planning initiatives over a period of time?

Many people now consider the Heritage Conservation District (HCD) to be one of the most effective tools not only for historic conservation but for good urban design and sound planning. At least ninety-one HCDs are already in existence in Ontario with the earliest designations dating back to 1980. While more are being planned and proposed all the time there is also a residual resistance to HCDs from some members of the public. Typically this resistance centres on concerns about loss of control over ones property, impact on property values and bureaucratic processes. On the other hand the benefits of HCDs, establishing high standards of maintenance and design, allowing the development of and compliance with shared community values and the potential for increasing property values, are not as widely perceived as might be the case.

Since it takes a period of time for the impacts of district designation to manifest, this study concentrated on districts that were well established. Applying the criterion of residential, commercial or mixed use areas designated in 1992 or before there are thirty-two HCDs that the study is examining. These districts are found in or near the following areas: Cobourg, Hamilton, Kingston, Ottawa, St. Catharines, Huron County, Brampton, Toronto, Ottawa, the Region of Waterloo and Thunder Bay.

The study has the following specific objectives:
• Determining if HCDs have achieved the goals set out when they were designated
• Asking if residents/owners are satisfied with the HCD process
• Communicating with the municipality to determine how many applications for alterations have been made and how long do they take
• Examining if and how property values have been affected
• Looking at what characteristics of HCDs and their contexts have most influenced their performance

The findings of this study will soon be available. You can pre-order an examination of each individual district in the study, or a final summary report. The order form is available here

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