Economic development officer for heritage, arts and culture for Kawartha Lakes Emily Turner, in a detailed and meticulous presentation to council at the recent committee of the whole meeting, proposed that the city look at adopting the “Guidelines for Conservation of Historic Places in Canada” as the city’s guiding document for conservation moving forward.
The document, originally developed by the federal government in 2003 and updated in 2010, is used by Parks Canada to help “preserve the historic value and conserve the qualities that make the site/building valuable to all Canadians.”
“The document is used by the federal, provincial and many municipal governments,” Turner told council, “and is also used by many private heritage organizations.”
The document, if adopted, focuses on three main goals for conservation: preservation, rehabilitation and restoration.
“Restoration is most common in Kawartha Lakes,” Turner told council, “as people are re-purposing old buildings respectfully and protecting their heritage value.”
Many of the standards found in the document Turner is proposing the city adopt are recognized by UNESCO, the United Nations sanctioned organization responsible to conserving historic places worldwide.
Turner suggested that the primary goal of conservation “is the preservation of the character defining elements found at the site.”
“I urge people to do their research pre-restoration,” Turner said, “and if you do your homework first, things will go far more smoothly.”
“There is also a delicate balance between preservation and accessibility,” Turner noted.
“All historical property redevelopments must work to be compatible with the historical building,” Turner suggested.
Turner told council that the federal document she is recommending for adoption “was the benchmark document for conservation practice.”
“Standards and best practices must be followed when work is being done on a building with historical value,” Turner continued, “and applicants need to know clearly what the rules are for developers when they submit their heritage impact study before work begins.”
She said there’s a need to adopt new guidelines so development can be streamlined.
Councillor Ron Ashmore, who sits on the heritage committee, suggested that the new document should be endorsed “because we need to preserve and maintain our history.”
Councillor Doug Elmslie asked Turner if adopting the new document would force people to have their properties designated under the Heritage Act?
Turner said that no one would be forced to have their property designated if council adopts the new guidelines.
Council will vote on the adoption of the new guidelines for conservation at their September 15 meeting.