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1. National Post: Over touristed World Heritage
2. Blog Toronto 5 Toronto buildings that might soon be lost
3. Leaside Life: July 1, 2016 A new map tracking Leaside history
4. Toronto Star- Future of CN Tower
5. Urban Toronto: Concourse Building - Back?
6. Petition to Preserve Character of Newmarket Main Street HCD
7. NOW Toronto- Urban Taxidermy on Yonge Street
8. OHA + M Blog: Michael McClelland on the OHA and the "New Heritage"
9. OHA + M: New OMB decision says no to insensitive infill

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1. National Post: Over touristed World Heritage
Michael Benedict

Last chance to climb: Check out the view from the tallest Mayan temple in Mexico at Coba

The descent from the top of the pyramid is so steep that some people go down crab-like on their bottoms. After a tourist slipped and tumbled to her death walking down the pyramid at Chichén Itzá, Mexico's best-known Mayan site, climbing that pyramid is now off limits for tourists.

studio-laska/Getty ImagesThe descent from the top of the pyramid is so steep that some people go down crab-like on their bottoms. After a tourist slipped and tumbled to her death walking down the pyramid at Chichén Itzá, Mexico's best-known Mayan site, climbing that pyramid is now off limits for tourists.
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These days, you can no longer trace the steps of the ancient Greeks inside the Parthenon, clamber on the mammoth slabs of Stonehenge (except for two days a year) or enter France’s Lascaux Caves to marvel at prehistoric art. All are victims of their own success—visitors are prohibited because traffic volumes threaten their continued existence.

But you can still physically experience one signature ruin, at least for now. That is, climbing the 120 steps of the tallest Mayan temple in Mexico at Cobá, once home to more than 50,000 people and the capital of a thriving civilization some 1,500 years ago. However, don’t wait too long. “Visit soon, or you won’t be able to climb up,” says Juan Bautista, an official guide at the Cobá archeological site. “It’s one of the few Mayan pyramids still open to the public, and it’s being damaged from the thousands of visitors.”

Indeed, nearby—and much better known—Chichén Itzá closed its pyramid climb in 2006 when a woman died after tumbling down on her descent. She slipped on one of the steps that had been smoothed over from thousands of visitor footsteps over the decades. Other Mayan sites followed suit, roping off their pyramid temples, but not Cobá. At least not yet, but the clock is ticking. “The authorities will act soon to protect it,” Bautista warns.


Editor’s Note: I did climb it on a dare! The view is spectacular, and terrifying at the same time. I came down very slowly and had a very sore butt for two days afterwards. Worth it!

2. Blog Toronto 5 Toronto buildings that might soon be lost
Derek Flack

5 Toronto buildings that might soon be lost

Davisville Junior School, photo Robert Moffatt

Toronto has made great strides when it comes to heritage preservation over the last decade, but that doesn't mean that every historical building is deemed worth saving. Modernist buildings in particular are under the greatest threat of redevelopment, as they're often architecturally undervalued or deemed too young to save.

The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario keeps tabs on at-risk buildings in the hopes of advocating for their preservation. It's tough to save a building without heritage designation, but one of the first steps in the process is awareness of what's at risk.

Here are 5 Toronto buildings that might be lost to redevelopment.

Hotel Waverly
The Hotel Waverly just doesn't seem to activate the kind of nostalgia required to get a heritage designation. Despite being built in 1900, the building will not be protected by a heritage designation in the face of a proposal to erect a 15-storey student residence in its place.

Humber Bay OculusSouth Humber Park Oculus
The Humber Bay Park Oculus is the type of modest mid-century structure that doesn't get much notice until someone takes up the charge to save it. After plans were released to demolish the stone washrooms and re-clad the pillars, a petition was started to protect the structure from these unfortunate refurbishment plans.

Davisville SchoolDavisville Public School / Metropolitan Toronto School for the Deaf
Having gone to junior school here, I have a soft spot for this building constructed in 1962. Toronto District School Board architect Peter Pennington took influence from the Googie style in the sloped roof and dramatic porte-cochères at the school, which has been slated for replacement by the TDSB.

York Square TorontoYork Square
Another bit of modern architecture under threat is York Square, a series of buildings at Yorkville and Avenue Rd. built in 1968 that were one of the city's first true examples of adaptive re-use. The latest plans call for the new development to wrap around the existing buildings, but there are still concerns that the character of A. J. Diamond and Barton Myers original work will be compromised.

511 King Street West489, 511, 519 King Street West
The redevelopment of this block proposed by Bjarke Ingels Group for Allied REIT and Westbank Corporation is as bold and innovative as they come in Toronto, but concern has been shown over how the new design treats the existing historical buildings, and heritage proponents are calling for the contemporary structure to be set further back so as not to envelope the current propertie


3. Leaside Life: July 1, 2016 A new map tracking Leaside history
Geoff Kettel

A new map tracking Leaside history

Map of Leaside 1913  1934. © John Naulls, 2016

John Naulls created this historical 1913-1934 Leaside Map for Leaside Matters Lea Exhibit in May. The map was created from archival information at the Toronto Reference Library, Leaside maps from 1913, 1918, 1924, 1934 and aerial photos from 1918, 1930, 1940 and 1942. The map is $20 and will be available at the Leaside Rotary Corn Roast in September, or from Leaside Matters via this email.

Why did you create this map?

I wanted to graphically show the history and geography of Leaside from its incorporation as a town in 1913 to the period immediately prior to the dramatic housing boom of the late 1930s and early 1940s. To me that is the most interesting 20-year period in its 100-year history because it includes Leasides industrial beginnings, as a railway town, heavy industry and airfield, through to the closing of the airfield in 1931, and the rail yards in 1933, signalling a change.

Why did you choose 1913 and 1934?

1913 was the year Leaside was incorporated and therefore the town was able to take control of its own destiny.

1934 was the last year for which there are fire protection maps for Leaside. These maps were privately produced and in 1934 town council stopped paying for them.

What was happening in 1913?

Leaside in 1913 was expecting industrial growth and land development; half the farm lots were already sold to real estate companies, and major industries like Canada Wire and Cable were setting up in the industrial area.

The town council for the newly established town recognized its first order of business was laying out a road system; they already had the town street plan, they just had to implement it.

Canada Wire built 68 houses on the east side. Later in 1928-29 there was an influx of houses on the west side and some stores were established on Bayview, to take advantage of the availability of water and hydro from Toronto.

What happened after 1934?

That was when Leaside really took off.

The Gatineau Power Station was constructed and the power line arrived in the 1920s, making power available for all of Leaside. And the Leaside Bridge was constructed in 1928 opening Leaside to the east. But the Great Depression followed in 1929-30. So the opportunities afforded by power and better road access were not realized until the late 1930s.

So is there another map in the offing?

There definitely needs to be another map for the 1935 to 1955 period. But it all depends on getting the time and the energy to create it.


4. Toronto Star- Future of CN Tower
Patrick Quinn

Will developers tear down the CN Tower?

An engineer who worked on the record-breaking project argues the land may become too valuable someday for the tower to be saved

The 40th anniversary of the opening of the CN Tower was greeted with considerable interest; covered by all the local media with pictures, historical reviews and discussions that often revealed a real public embracing and affection for what has become an iconic location, structure, and event.

As a structural engineer who was in the architectural office involved in its design, and an observer of its construction phase, I heard the question asked as to the towers potential life span, and the answers were, everywhere between 100 and 300 years. The real answer is that, with a modicum of maintenance, it could rival the pyramids of Egypt for longevity, but in todays reality, it will be demolished when it is more profitable to replace it. With land prices escalating in Toronto at warp speed, that will be sooner than we might think.

Robert Bandeen, the visionary railroad man who was president and CEO of CN at the time of its construction, and gave the go-ahead on a project that would break new ground and go to heights not yet achieved, said this, as he unveiled a major sculpture by Gerald Gladstone at its base in 1976: The tower is, in itself, something of a work of art, the product of the imagination of architects, the technical knowledge of engineers, and the skills and muscles of the workers.

The sculpture he was unveiling was a 21-foot high ambiguous figure that Gladstone named Universal Man, the largest casting to that time by the famed English Singer foundry.

Bandeen also said: Our decision to have a sculpture by a leading Canadian artist at the tower was made because we wanted to emphasize the human aspects of the project, whose height and technological aspects tend to overshadow the human dimension. Mr. Gladstones vital and stimulating work brings humanity and liveliness to what could otherwise be a sterile landscape. I am sure that in time this work will become as familiar and as famous as other sculptures which are regarded as landmarks in their cities  Eros in London; Prometheus in New York; the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen. I feel that it is something we need to share with everybody, something which should enrich our working hours as well as our leisure times.

In an article on Gladstone in the Star in April 1975 it was reported the casting of Universal Man, which was then happening in England, will be given to the City of Toronto next year. Until 1987 it stood in a small plaza at the base of the tower and was a focal point and much-photographed backdrop for many visitors.

Bandeen, the visionary and patron of the arts, retired from CN in 1982. In 1987 the small plaza and Universal Man, by then estimated to be worth about $1 million, were in the way of SkyDomes construction and disappeared from public view. Gladstone was outraged when he discovered it, damaged in a remote area of the railway yards where it had been unceremoniously dumped face down.

The CN Tower cost about $50 million, is in private hands, on private land of a unique character in a landscape where land prices are overcoming many other factors. While the tower is an extraordinary money maker, (it attracts several million visitors a year), there are considerations its locations use is being underutilized from a profit potential.

Uptown condos in Toronto are realizing in excess of $1,000 a square foot, and the one percenters dont blink at paying $50 million for an apartment that is used for part of the year. A 150-storey building, such as the Burj Khalifa, which cost almost $2 billion to build and is economically viable, is illustrative of the possibilities for the site on which the CN Tower sits.

Gladstone, a feisty artist with intellectual property rights, rescued, with the help of the owners of the Yorkdale Mall, a piece of Torontos public art which was felled by Philistine development ethics.

Who will save our CN tower when profit comes calling? To paraphrase Bandeen, who will emphasize the human aspects of a project that has become part of the consciousness of a city, when hubris and profit have the power to overshadow the human dimension?

Maybe a forward-looking city council might consider now, answers to these questions.

Patrick Quinn is a structural engineer and was a partner in the architectural office of Web Zerafa Menkes during the design and construction of the CN Tower.


5. Urban Toronto: Concourse Building - Back?
Stefan Novakovic

EY Tower: An Inside Look at the Concourse Building Replica

Last week, we toured the construction site of one of Toronto's most talked-about Downtown developments. Now reaching its full height of 40 storeys, the Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed EY Tower already catches the eye as the distinctively crystalline roof joins the Financial District skyline. However, while the prominent new skyscraper is prompting necks to crane upwards, an equally prominent architectural element is taking shape at ground level.

On Thursday, the first part of our tour took us inside the tower levels, with a preview of the 900,000 ft² building's AAA office spaces. Today, our attention turns to the replicated heritage facade that fronts the tower's southeast corner at Adelaide and Sheppard. Long home to the 1928-built Concourse Building, the corner of Adelaide and Sheppard is now fronted by a conspicuously new replica of the former building. Featuring prominent murals and mosaics by Group of Seven member JEH MacDonald, elements of the Art Deco building—demolished in 2013—have been incorporated into the new facade.


Editor’s Note: I called this a death mask approach when we were trying to save the whole building in 2003 or so--the fuss expedited amendments to the Ontario Heritage Act. Nice to see that Oxford is so proud of the restored elements....

6. Petition to Preserve Character of Newmarket Main Street HCD
ACO Newmarket

YES to 3 Storeys - Preserve our Main Street Newmarket Heritage - Stop the Swap

We are a diverse group of Newmarket citizens, business and property owners who care about respecting the heritage designation of our Main Street district. We understand growth and intensification must happen, but it should be done within the existing framework of our Heritage Conservation District Plans and bylaws. 


7. NOW Toronto- Urban Taxidermy on Yonge Street
Robert Allsopp


Toronto's main street is sustained by comings and goings from shops, cafés and bars at street level, but this synergy is disappearing as narrow-fronted businesses are swallowed up by development

Downtown Yonge Street isn't what it used to be.

The high energy of street life is fast disappearing. There are not many people around. We rarely walk far along the street because it lacks a sufficient variety of shops or range of sensory experiences to tempt us.

We do most of our specialty shopping and eating elsewhere. We do our chain-store shopping in the Eaton Centre and the many other interior malls linked by the underground PATH network that are vacuuming the life and the paying customers from Yonge.

The Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue (which occupy the old Simpson's store) are still in full-blooded conversation with the street. Yonge-Dundas Square and Ryerson U have made a big difference, but their energizing effects seem locally concentrated.

The condo invasion has hit Yonge, but oddly, the hyper-densities haven't added much public life to the street.

The key to Yonge Street's success has been the rows of independently operated, narrow-fronted shops and businesses that collectively support intense social and commercial activity. What sustains Toronto's main street are the many comings and goings from shops, cafés and bars at street level and the offices, showrooms and apartments on the upper floors. Entrances occur every few metres. There's an intense synergy between the repetitive building type and the street. But this synergy is disappearing as buildings are stuffed and preserved in a lifeless trend I call urban taxidermy.


8. OHA + M Blog: Michael McClelland on the OHA and the "New Heritage"
Michael McClelland, Dan Schneider

Making Decisions: Looking at the Ontario Heritage Act, Planning Policy and the New Heritage

Kensington Market-What and how to preserve? photo Catherine Nasmith

When the Ontario Heritage Act was first introduced in 1975, it was a remarkable step forward for heritage conservation. It demonstrated that heritage was highly valued both by the province and the public at large. It provided strong powers to municipalities and it tackled directly the thorny issues of property rights versus the public interest in heritage.

Under the Act the designation of a heritage property could occur without the consent of the owner and without consideration of compensation, even though heritage acts in other provinces contained such compensation clauses. Its only weakness appeared to be limited demolition control  and this was changed in the revisions in 2005.

In the original act municipal councils could refuse alterations to a heritage property but demolition itself could only be delayed by 180 days. This delay was presumably to give the municipality some time to negotiate with a disgruntled property owner. The 2005 revisions removed the delay period and gave councils the authority for outright refusal of demolition permits. While this refusal is appealable to the Ontario Municipal Board and while negotiation is still a valid consideration in much of the heritage designation process, the 2005 revisions created a significantly stronger Act.

We are now ten years after the 2005 revisions and forty years after the act itself and it is appropriate to ask ourselves how well the heritage act is performing. Does it have strengths and weaknesses? Might there be room for improvement?

To evaluate the Act, it is necessary to step back and look from a larger frame of reference. The questions really are  what do we think heritage is, why are we conserving it, and does the heritage act serve our current needs?

In 1877, roughly one hundred years before the Ontario Heritage Act, William Morris and others founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Monuments, and it is from this society that many of our standard approaches to conservation derive  we perceive heritage as an artifact, an artifact worthy of conservation, and we think of conserving heritage as intergenerational  we conserve as much for our children as for ourselves.

But there is a difference. Morriss society had an interest only in very ancient monuments and preferably ruins. It took until much later, with the founding of the Georgian and Victorian Societies in England in the early twentieth century, for attention to be brought to more recent buildings.

These newer Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian buildings were buildings that Morris himself would certainly not have considered as having heritage value. With each heritage society there was clearly a sense that the building had to be from the past, but interestingly, with the founding of the each of these societies the distance between the valued past and the present become exponentially closer.

The Austrian art historian, Alois Riegl, writing in the 1890s, added complexity to this discussion of what he called age-value. He argued that historical artifacts do not have value in themselves. The values attributed to them are applied by an engaged contemporary community. Heritage value is created in the present day.

Julian Smith, a prominent heritage architect in Ontario, has provided an outline of how community-based values have been applied here. Corresponding to William Morriss interest, Smith says that the initial interests in conservation in the province were antiquarian, implying looking at the oldest and possibly most archaeologically significant sites.

In the later part of the nineteenth century there was a shift towards the commemorative heritage site. These sites tended to be military  battle sites and forts  and here it was acceptable, unlike under the earlier antiquarian approach, to rebuild things, including complete forts, if it allowed a greater appreciation of the historic significance of the site. Few antiquarian sites were left untouched by this commemorative approach.

This was followed by the recreation and tourism response to heritage, something possibly connected to Canadas 1967 centennial and still akin to much of the tourism we see today. Here the interest is not in isolated sites but a larger context of communities and environments that one could visit and experience. The argument is that the authenticity of the heritage resource was a touristic experience  and this in fact remains a global driver for tourism.

But the interest in heritage has moved further. What is good for the tourist is good for the resident, and the last of Julians four stages in the evolving interests of heritage conservation is the ecological or environmental stage. Heritage conservation can be seen as a fundamental component of place-making, creating a healthy and sustainable environment.

And this is much more about the community that lives there than the tourist who visits. It is also not about specific buildings or sites but about the creation and stewardship of a sense of place. Ideally every place is based on specific history that can be explored, appreciated and managed. And this is how a discussion about heritage starts to get complicated.

We can see that the identification of what is heritage and even the reasons to pursue heritage conservation have evolved over time. In 1964 when Eric Arthur wrote his definitive architectural history of Toronto, No Mean City, he stopped around the year 1900. Presumably for Arthur little built after 1900 merited recognition as significant heritage.

But now in the local context there are grass-root campaigns to save graffiti, neon signs, old trees and 1950s retail strip malls under the name of heritage, and this broadening of the concerns for heritage has perplexed many of the more traditional conservationists.

Along with societies to recognize and conserve Art Deco or Art Moderne, there are also societies to conserve all forms of architecture - the vernacular, the modern, the post-modern, and the commercial. Other societies address the related designed landscapes and open spaces. And this is a condition that is happening not just here but everywhere across the globe as more and more people are seeing heritage as a significant part of the environment in which they live.

Internationally, ICOMOS and other organizations have started to redefine heritage. Gustavo Araoz, the current president of ICOMOS, has said that a paradigm shift has occurred in our understanding of heritage and how it contributes to modern society. And his position is reinforced by other international charters, such as the Faro Convention that links heritage most specifically to human rights. Heritage is not just about an historic site. In this international light, heritage is now seen as a complex matrix involving the environment and peoples patterns of use within that environment.

Locally you could consider Kensington Market in Toronto. Is it the buildings, the produce, the ethnicity or even the sounds and smells that make Kensington Market a nationally recognized historic site?

Potentially everything may have some heritage value to someone and to understand these new relative values requires us to look carefully not only at our artifacts but also our audience.

This complexity is also seen in the world of art conservation, where again it would seem that almost anything could now be considered as art. Salvador Muñoz Viñass excellent book Contemporary Theory of Conservation discusses this dilemma for the fine art conservator  aside from the iconic masterpieces, how does the conservator decide, as a professional, what art works warrant conservation? And given the cost of conservation, how is the level of conservation determined?

This may over-simplify Muñoz Viñass thoughtful arguments, but he argues first that while all objects may be art, they have different levels of importance  they may be important to a single person or family or they may be important at a broad international scale, with many steps in between.

Secondly, the determination of what the fine art conservator is to conserve needs to be determined through an iterative discussion between the conservator, the expert, and the affected people, the public who value the art. The approach is inclusive, in that it recognizes the pervasiveness of the art object, and relativist, in that the expert cannot alone determine the outcome.

This is a distinct departure from the traditional approach to art conservation which argued that art was a limited field and the conservator as expert, had the only valid opinion.

There may be parallels here between fine art conservation theory and the current workings of heritage conservation in Ontario. The heritage act unfortunately appears to have a very strong binary component  heritage or not-heritage, without gradation, and this is similar to the more traditional approach to art conservation. This binary works very well for key heritage landmarks, and it is important that it continue to do so, but it works less well for what is Muñoz Viñas calls modest heritage and for the newer interests in the broad scope of heritage that threatens to flood the already over-worked system.

The Ontario Heritage Act appears unprepared to deal with this larger cultural shift.

The Act does include a regulation regarding criteria for designation but here again there is little help. The criteria are very permissive so that almost anything tested under the criteria could warrant designation. Is the building a representative or rare example of an architectural style? Surely most buildings are one or the other. Is the building a landmark? Is not every hospital, public school or local shopping centre a locally recognized landmark? So almost everything considered under the criteria tends to slide into the heritage bin, without gradation.

The most effective definitions regarding heritage in Ontario are found, not in the Ontario Heritage Act, but in the provinces guide to the Planning Act, called the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS). The PPS was updated in 2014 and in that revision it again proposed some clear guidance for heritage. The PPS outlines why we do planning and states directly what is of provincial importance in the planning process. It provides definitions to explain what it means to conserve, and that significant built heritage resources and significant cultural heritage landscapes shall be conserved.

This direction is relevant to the Planning Act because planners tend to see heritage as one of the many things they need to consider when making decisions regarding planning applications. In fact, the PPS makes it imperative that heritage gets due consideration.

But overall the two acts, the planning and the heritage acts, appear disconnected. Why is it that the heritage act contains no mention of cultural heritage landscapes, or landscapes of any kind? Why does the PPS say that heritage resources can be significant or potentially less significant when the heritage acts criteria for designation gives no hint that a tiered system might be permissible?

Why do neither of the two acts provide an overall outline illustrating how they are intended to work together, for environmental, cultural or civic reasons?

To be fair the ministry that produced the heritage act did subsequently issue the Ontario Heritage Tool Kit as a way to make an explanatory guide for working with the Act and the City of Toronto recently adopted a series of heritage policies for their official plan, but neither of these address the fundamental weakness of the Ontario Heritage Act that it is binary and provides a limited and rigid set of legislative tools.

No matter what can be said, increased usage of the Ontario Heritage Act wont address Araozs description of the exponential growth of heritage and its paradigm shift in meaning.

Imagine a Margaret Atwood novel where sometime in the near future everything has been designated. In this dystopia, the immutable heritage designation bylaws, however arbitrary or out-of-date, would control all civic processes and gradually bring civic life to a halt.

What can be done? Working with the heritage act and the current planning policy may provide an efficient and flexible approach for addressing these concerns. Ideally, modeling a provincial policy statement for heritage on the PPS might be very helpful.

The policy statement could provide a definition for heritage, a statement of its importance to the province and how it relates to other provincial policy  thinking immediately of connections to planning, culture, economic growth, sustainability, natural resources and aboriginal and immigration policies.

The Provincial Heritage Policy (PHP), a name just proposed in this article, could outline different avenues for conservation of heritage resources, from the traditional designation under the heritage act for significant iconic heritage buildings, to the incorporation of heritage policies into all ranges of government policy.

This could be a vital change, for heritage is in fact not the stale thing of designation descriptions, it is about how people define themselves within the context of a place, it is about how people determine what they value about that place, and fundamentally it is about how decisions for change, to improve and enhance the environments we live in, are made.

Michael McClelland June 2016


9. OHA + M: New OMB decision says no to insensitive infill
Dan Schneider

Stratford White House

Stratford's White House

To recap from last time: the Stratford White House is an 1860s Italianate mansion dressed up with a much later oversized portico (with 18 columns!) and boasts a landscaped front and semi-circular drive. Prominently located on St. David Street, one of the best streets in town, the house currently has three residential units and an events facility. The property is the subject of an intensification/infilling proposal that would keep the house but cram in three new building lots on the back and west side (Areas 'A', 'B' and 'C' on the plan below).

The White House property is neither designated nor officially listed under the Ontario Heritage Act, but it does appear on a limited inventory of heritage properties prepared by the Stratford Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee in 1999. It is also located in a Heritage Area comprising much of the city in Stratfords official plan. [Note 1]

When the Committee of Adjustment refused the applications for the required severances and minor variances, the owner appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. The citys own planner, who had recommended approval of the proposal (without a single mention of heritage!), was summoned to help the owner make its case. The city declined to take part in the hearing, leaving the neighbourhood group, Friends of the Stratford White House, as the opponents to the appeal. The hearing took place on May 12, 2016 and  remarkably  the decision came down not quite two weeks later on May 25.

In a refreshingly short (nine-page) decision, OMB Vice-Chair Steven Stefanko dismissed the appeal. [Note 2]

The Board had no problem finding that the White House is a heritage resource, citing the following:

while neither listed nor designated, the property is on the 1999 inventory and is in the citys Heritage Area
a previous (2007) OMB decision concerning the rezoning of the property stated that all of the then-parties considered the property a heritage resource
in 2005 a preliminary draft designation by-law for the property had been prepared (although it went nowhere: Based on the evidence in this matter, that designation was not finalized as the Citys practice is to require the permission of the property owner prior to designation. Needless to say, that permission was not given.) [Note 3]

Perhaps most importantly, the Board accepted the opponents argument that the property meets the criteria for determining cultural heritage value or interest in Ontario Regulation 9/06 under the OHA.

In terms of the applicable planning policies: probably because the legislative tests for severances and minor variances both include deference to the municipalitys Official Plan, the Board starts, not with the provincial policy context provided by the Provincial Policy Statement, but with the relevant OP policies. [Note 4]

The Board cites the general heritage conservation policies in the OP, typical of those in municipal OPs in Ontario. For example, one of the guiding principles for decision-making is: heritage preservation to protect areas, landmarks and features which provide a physical link to the early development of Stratford and which contribute to its distinct character and sense of place. And, under the heading Tourism and Heritage: Stratfords built heritage, as evidenced by its remaining fine examples of Victorian architecture and other historic landmarks are [sic] considered critical to fostering tourism activity.

With respect to infilling, the Board refers to the OPs direction that projects be evaluated based on the guidelines adopted by the city in a 1991 Residential Intensification Study to ensure that new development is compatible with and sensitive to existing development in the area. And, under the heading Infilling in Heritage Areas: [W]here infilling is proposed & the inherent heritage qualities of the area or corridor will be retained, restored and ideally enhanced&.

Faced with the ultimate, inevitable argument that the benefits of intensification trump those of heritage, the Board is clear.

It is arguable that the proposal is a form of intensification contemplated by the City OP; however, that intensification, even if permitted, does not in my view, outweigh or override the very clear and compelling language of the City OP relating to heritage preservation and protection. & Neither the Severances nor the Requested Variances retain, restore or enhance the heritage character of the site in my estimation.

The Board concludes that the proposal does not conform with the citys Official Plan. And that would be that& except that the decision goes on to briefly consider the application of the Provincial Policy Statement even if this is technically unnecessary.

In something of a replay, intensification fares no better against heritage at the provincial level:

The Proponent argues that since the proposed lots provide for modest infilling and intensification& consistency with the PPS is established. I am not persuaded.

Section 2.6.1 of the PPS states, very decisively, that Significant built heritage resources and significant cultural heritage landscapes shall be conserved. &

In my view, the property, including the existing building and landscape setting constitutes, at the very least, a significant built heritage resource which is to be conserved. The proposal however, has, in my estimation, a somewhat awkward and disproportional lot configuration in an area with a preponderance of stately homes and large landscaped properties. As a result the Subject Parcels cultural, historical and heritage character is undermined. In my opinion, consistency with s. 2.6.1 of the PPS is not achieved.

So, yet another case of the Ontario Municipal Board siding with the heritage argument. Just how many more examples of this do we need to finally persuade those out there (you know who you are) that the OMB is not an ogre when it comes to heritage concerns?

Some takeaways:

While they often seem like motherhood statements  nice to have but not counting for much  general heritage policies in OPs are important and potentially critical in preservation disputes.

Although it certainly makes the preservation argument stronger, a cultural heritage property does not have to be designated or even listed under the OHA to receive the benefit of OP heritage policies and section 2.6.1 of the Provincial Policy Statement; but you will have to demonstrate its cultural heritage value, using the criteria in the regulations.
Intensification as an argument for undermining or overwhelming heritage may be even less compelling in places like Stratford outside of the Greater Golden Horseshoe and other areas subject to provincial growth plans.

Two other (more esoteric) observations. First, I think we see from this case yet more evidence that the Provincial Policy Statements definition of the term significant as applied to cultural heritage has become so broad as to be effectively redundant. I defy you to coherently explain the difference between, say, a built heritage resource and a significant built heritage resource.

Second, in intensification versus heritage face-offs (and, granted, it is often not helpful to set them up as such), this and other recent decisions suggest an Achilles heel to intensification: the specific usually takes precedence over the general. Meaning that the particular, site-specific (and irreplaceable) heritage resource should not be sacrificed to the general, less localized push for intensification, which can be satisfied in other ways  and other places.

Meanwhile, the fate of the White House is looking brighter. Just days after the OMB decision was issued, the owner has withdrawn an application for a demolition permit (!) for the building, and apparently is moving ahead with a revised development plan for the property.

Note 1: The Official Plan, from 1993, has since been revised, although the new plan is awaiting provincial approval. The "Heritage Area" covers almost all of the older part of the city.

Note 2: Go to http://elto.gov.on.ca/omb/e-decisions-omb/ and enter case number PL150859.

Note 3: This is a little off our topic today, but I have to once again point out that this type of policy  not to designate without the okay of the owner  has been ruled illegal. See OHA+M from Nov. 6, 2015: http://danschneiderheritage.blogspot.ca/2015/11/the-oha-what-courts-have-to-say-part.html

Note 4: See subsections 51(24) and 45(1) of the Planning Act.


Editor’s Note: Hurrah!