Monday, June 22, 2009

Heritage Conservation Districts and the Port Dalhousie OMB Decision Forum

Meeting Consensus – April 25 2009

The audience was asked for specific suggestions to avoid unwanted OMB decisions in Heritage Conservation Districts. The suggestions below supplement those recommended by the speakers.

Municipal Action

1) Process
o Ensure clarity in process and decision making

2) Heritage District Plans
o Review all HCD Plans for conformance with Ontario Heritage Act 2005 requirements
- Schedule 5 or 7 year review of all HCD plans
- Can they guide or withstand development changes, development pressure?
- Ensure guidelines are highly specific, sufficiently detailed and reflect local conditions, particularly unusual features
- Pinpoint specific elements of district in addition to broader overview
- Ensure consistent language between PPS, Planning Act and Heritage Act
- Clearly articulate heritage value (follow criteria in Pt IV as a starting point)
- Inform new homeowners in HCD’s of implications of owning property in an HCD

3)Funding Upgraded Plans
o Make use of section 37 of Planning Act to fund HCD Plans
o Lobby province for funding support

4)Public Education
- Identification of district, ie. Signs in the area
- Put the district plan online as well as other heritage policy documents where they are accessible to the public
- Track applications, and other heritage matters online
- Education for new home owners about what pending new designation means
- Encourage real estate agents to do title searches rather than purchase title insurance so new purchasers know they are buying in an HCD
- Insert standard wording into agreements of purchase and sale informing purchasers of such implications and where to obtain further information.

5) Education for members of council, advisors, development community, new home owners
- Encourage proactive communication within municipalities, interdepartmental
- Economics of heritage planning

6)Heritage tourism creates incentive to instigate HCD’s, particularly in commercial areas, Port Hope’s Walton Street cited as an example
- Restoration employs local skills and material, and employs more nearly twice as much labour as new construction, ongoing maintenance also a source of employment

Provincial Action

1) Take leadership and be proactive
o Need for additional heritage staff
o Identify heritage resources of provincial significance, establish the provincial inventory
o Ministry to clarify heritage policy and process
o Define conservation and development in PPS, to include renovation, rehabilitation and revitalization
o Terms conservation, protection and preservation in Ontario Heritage Act need to be clarified - conservation is the evolved practice of keeping the best of what already exists while meeting current needs
o Clear identification of what provincial policy is on a number of provincial matters
o Remind local elected officials what their responsibility is when it comes to heritage conservation (provide direction to councils)
o Review Ontario Heritage Act every 5-7 years

2) Provide Financial support
o Provide provincial funding to upgrade plans
o Establish Provincial Heritage Grant programs

3) Review memorandum of understanding between CRB and OMB to ensure CRB participation in OMB hearings involving heritage

ACO/CHO Action

1) Send letter from ACO and CHO chairs to Ministry requesting actions following OMB decision
2) Send Minister of Infrastructure follow up letter about “where feasible” in Places to Grow legislation
3) Set up HCD network as an opportunity to exchange information
4) Work with Heritage Canada and others across the country to re-instate heritage incentive programs

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