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NEWS | ACTION


1. Province applies to Destroy early 19th Century Whitevale Heritage
2. Another Heritage Effort in St. Thomas Stunted by Bureaucracy
3. Positive Outlook for Guelph
4. SOS alarms coming thick and fast from Bala Falls
5. Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership - Call for Nominations
6. Ont. Planners Heritage issue

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1. Province applies to Destroy early 19th Century Whitevale Heritage
C. Gordon Wilson

Last night I learned the Government of Ontario (owner) has applied to demolish the home of John Major, founder of our village. I believe the house design is early Georgian and built here not too long after the end of the War of 1812.

Before Truman Pennock White came to the village in 1845, Whitevale was known as the Village of MAJOR for the first 30 odd years of its existence. Major brought the house design with him when he returned from Halifax where he served as an officer in the British Army during the War of 1812. It seems the design was popular on the eastern seaboard on both sides of the border around 1800.

I don’t know exactly how many of this style of house design there are in Ontario. I know of six. Four are found in Niagara on the Lake (see Peter Stokes book), one in Grafton Ontario and the other immediately east of our village on historic Whitevale Road. They are all variants of the same design.

There is much suspicion and unanswered questions as to why the government is intent on the demolition of this gem of early architecture... This act of intended destruction is such a betrayal of all the residents of this village who fought to save our architectural heritage over the past 40 odd years. My wife Anna was Chair of Town of Pickering’s LACAC and helped shepherd-in the Heritage Conservation District under Part V of the OHA in the early 90’s. Recently, the government drastically shrunk the District and now only applies to our village leaving most others, outside its municipal limits, without any protection.

Covered over from view, the front door features a transom light. The portico is thought to have been added sometime in the last 100 years.

If the government, who own most of the homes on historic Whitevale Road and elsewhere on the Seaton city site, can apply to demolish this home, all homes are now at risk.

2. Another Heritage Effort in St. Thomas Stunted by Bureaucracy
Catherine Raven

HMCS OJIBWA a Cold War Oberon Class submarine, an artifact of the Elgin Military Museum in St. Thomas, Ontario

Please speak up for the Cold War warrior HMCS OJIBWA and the efforts of a small museum that took on a National challenge, met it head on and is now threatened after only a year and a half of operation. The bank  for reasons beyond our control, has started the process to call our loan  albeit with the option to negotiate. Nevertheless, our position is currently precarious. We were named the Innovator of the Year by the tourism associations of both the Province of Canada and the national Canadian Tourism Association while in our first full year of operation in 2014  an astounding accomplishment. Our ground breaking programming is recognized as unique in the world.

Please help us over this growing pain so that we can continue this work. Most will understand that it is very difficult for a not-for-profit museum to generate large funds in its initial year or two of operation. Once we have our building in place alongside our submarine, we will be able to be open year round and thereby stabilize our financial position. We urgently require your support. A supporter of our museum has started this petition of support to federal and provincial ministers. 

The Elgin Military Museum in St. Thomas, Ontario has been self-sufficient and able to double in size twice in the thirty years it has existed without government support. Taking on the task of saving an important piece of our national heritage requires a little assistance. Please help.

Find us on the web at www.projectojibwa.ca and https://www.facebook.com/MuseumNH as well as www.elginmilitarymuseum.ca

3. Positive Outlook for Guelph
Heritage Canada

 Ottawa, ON, March 10, 2015 – Heritage Canada The National Trust is pleased to announce that the Petrie Building, a unique landmark in downtown Guelph, will be acquired by Tyrcathlen Partners. One of three documented buildings in Canada erected prior to 1890 with a full sheet metal façade, the Petrie Building—a victim of years of neglect—was included on the National Trust’s list of Top Ten Endangered Places in 2014.

“The National Trust is very pleased with the news of the acquisition,” said Executive Director Natalie Bull. “Investment in this landmark building by a sympathetic developer was the outcome we dreamed of when inscribing the Petrie Building on our national Endangered Places list. Its rehabilitation will keep a landmark from becoming landfill, and inject new life into the city’s treasured historic downtown.”

Focusing exclusively on heritage restoration and adaptive reuse in Guelph, Tyrcathlen Partners’ projects involve innovative partnerships and solutions to save heritage buildings and transform their use. Other projects include the Granary Building (now home to the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, Innovative Guelph and others) and Boarding House Arts (a vibrant community of artists, arts organizations and galleries in the former Guelph Civic Museum).

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to revitalize this truly unique local landmark and national heritage treasure,” said Tyrcathlen Partners Principal Kirk Roberts. “After almost 100 years, it will be especially rewarding to see the upper floors come back to life.”

The historic Petrie Building is located at 15 Wyndham Street North in Guelph, Ontario. Read the full story here.

4. SOS alarms coming thick and fast from Bala Falls
Catherine Nasmith

Recent Protest in Canoes on the high side of the Falls, photo John Wright, North 45 Communications

In spite of concerns expressed by Wahta First Nation to both the Premier of Ontario, and the Prime Minister of Canada, the hoped for last minute miracle that would preserve the much-loved scenic falls and historic portage route in the centre of Bala from a provincially backed hydro development remains elusive.

Bala Falls has been on Heritage Canada The National Trust’s Top Ten Endangered List since 2012. Over the weekend the emails were coming thick and fast as frustrations mounted.

Last week, over the written objections of 200 constituents from a Township population of just 6500, the newly elected Council of the Township of Muskoka Lakes supported a road widening, removal of trees on the municipally owned, heritage designated portage site, construction of a retaining wall and landfill to support a construction staging area so vehicles can access the provincially owned adjacent land where the plant is planned. The motion narrowly passed four votes to three. Bala resident Allan Turnbull described the session as follows “Mayor Don Furniss and his slate seem intent on one thing and one thing only – to help their friends at Swift River Energy push through this proposal as quickly as possible, over the wishes of the community of Bala. The only person to say anything in favour of Swift River Energy was their own representative.”

The extraordinary measures necessary to gain construction access give an idea of just how impractical it is to build a hydro plant on this postage sized site. Councillors Sandy Currie, Phil Harding, Donelda Kruekel and Ruth Nishikawa continue to argue for preservation of this place of community memory.

For a second election in a row, the development at Bala Falls was a defining issue, with candidates divided in their positions. Don Furniss defeated former Mayor Alice Murphy on a platform of fiscal probity. He made it clear during the election campaign that he had no intention of fighting the province or the plant developer, Swift River Energy Limited (SREL) any longer. He holds a majority of one vote in a 9 member council, which he is using to play hardball with opponents. The councillors elected to represent Bala are strongly opposed to the development, but are outvoted by councillors from other wards.

Council has struck a working committee to work with SREL on the design of the hydro plant that excludes representatives of Wahta First Nation, Save the Bala Falls and Moon River Property Owners Association, but includes two reps from SREL.

Under Mayor Murphy, Council launched several legal appeals to gain protection for the historic portage route that starts on municipal property, and crosses the adjacent provincially owned lands. Appeals of actions by the Ministry of Natural Resources in shutting off public access to a community park and the portage failed, as well as the appeal of that Court decision. The issue of the right to portage in Canada has received national press attention, and with a different election result might have reached the Supreme Court of Canada.

An appeal to Transport Canada by Save the Bala Falls also disappointed. The only win was at the Conservation Review Board who agreed to the precedent setting designation of the Portage Landing as a cultural heritage landscape. (I acted for the municipality as expert witness in that case.)

Each of these appeals has resulted in delays but opponents are running out of avenues. Fighting with the multiple provincial ministries involved is like dealing with a pillow. Somehow in spite of ten years of concerted effort, the province remains deaf to the ongoing and very loud expression of local public opinion.

Peggy, the Muskoka Lorax, has occupied the site since last summer.

Letters to the Premier from the Wahta First Nation, objecting to the failure to consult with them were referred to the Minister of Environment instead of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. The Honourable Glen Murray responded that his staff said that consultation had taken place, as if Chief Franks was delusional to suggest otherwise. One wonders how hard would it be for any of the Ministers involved to just pick up the phone and speak directly to Chief Franks. This situation definitely needs a “conversation”.

The Green Energy Act suspends all municipal planning in cases involving green energy, with cultural heritage as one of the few items that must be considered as part of the Environmental Assessment. Because the designation of the Portage Landing occurred after the EA was finished it has had little impact.

Since then, the Township has conducted a study and plan for a larger cultural heritage landscape designation for the public areas in central Bala. Council passed a designation bylaw shortly before the end of the last term. SREL as well as several other local property owners have appealed the HCD Plan to the Ontario Municipal Board. It is not clear whether the municipality intends to defend the HCD, but the delay in re-instating the Municipal Heritage Committee does not bode well.

However, Save the Bala Falls and Wahta First Nation are not rolling over yet. Much hope is placed on the soon to be released documentary film, Fight for Bala by Rob Stewart, who directed the internationally lauded Sharkwater. Here’s the trailer.

To keep abreast of what you can do to help, go to Save the Bala Falls.

5. Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership - Call for Nominations
Carolyn Quinn, Heritage Canada The National Trust

The National Trust for Canada is accepting nominations for the PRINCE OF WALES PRIZE for Municipal Heritage Leadership. The prize is awarded to a municipal government, large or small, rural or urban, which has demonstrated a commitment to the conservation of its heritage assets.

The Terms of Reference, complete with eligibility criteria, nomination procedures and forms, are available online at www.heritagecanada.org

Submissions are due March 27, 2015.

Questions?
Contact:
Carolyn Quinn, Director of Communications
cquinn@heritagecanada.org
866-964-1066 ext 229
www.heritagecanada.org

6. Ont. Planners Heritage issue
David Chambers

I would like to draw your attention and that of your readers to the special heritage issue of the Ont Planners Assoc, appearing as a link in your Dec. 23 issue #235 of Built Heritage News. 

In my frustrating 40 years in heritage preservation I have found this issue to be the most helpful and significant in understanding the reasons for the abysmal failure of heritage preservation in Ont.

I am referring to the courageous and insightful expose by Robert Shipley, who has publically revealed for the first time and accurately targeted some of the inherent flaws in the preservation process in Ont.

I have suggested to the editor that a copy of this heritage issue should be sent out to every heritage committee in Ont. Thanks to Shipley we now know what the problems are. The next step is up to the ACO and CHO to establish some workable solutions. Are they up to this Challenge??

Unfortunately space did not permit Shipley to dwell on the important problem solving aspects.

Shipley's revealing(shocking) flag-waving comments are there in contrast to the same old trite from M. Seaman who advises that we should be commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Ont. Heritage Act. WOW! The very Act that allowed the loss of so much heritage.

In the meantime, if you fail to inform yourself, then forever hold your tongue.

Editor’s Note: I am sure Dr. Shipley will appreciate your praise!