Monday, January 02, 2012

Examining Heritage in Canada

The CBC reported 2011 was not a good year for Canadian Heritage. The article states that heritage building are not safe in Canada. It cites that some major landmarks suffered last year and there is no promise things won't get worse. One person commented that Canada does not have an legislation to protect heritage buildings. Even though there is a registry, building that stand on land owned by crown corporations are exempt.

This article got my interest because it seems Canada wants to catch up with the standards towards heritage that seem to mark the City of Brantford. There was an article last week, and I do thank a Facebook follower for pointing out statement, that university representatives feel Brantford does not need a downtown heritage district.

The concern of the University is a concern that too may regulations will slow the development of the University. They want an almost piecemeal approach to heritage, instead of an entire district receiving the designation, they want individual structures.

I must admit I don't know a great deal about heritage districts but I believe the idea is that a certain area is filled with heritage structures and as such need blanket protection. If you allow building by building, the problem is you could have a modern structure on one side, and an heritage structure beside it. I know that if an organization was smart, it would go out of the way to ensure the new structure fits into the overall environment. But there is no guarantee. One might have architect wanting more to put their mark then a concern for the overall look and feel. So far, the University has been good, just consider the renovation of existing structure and the building of new. However, the problem is the pressure to expand. The University administration wants to grow to a 15,000 student school. If they wish to remain solely in the downtown core, it would mean a whole lot of buildings, and I have to believe they can`t continue renovating existing structure. They want new building- and that will mean gathering land together and tearing down entire blocks.

To be honest, their spokesperson does say:
“It is not our intention to go in there and start knocking down significant buildings or demolishing buildings of importance,” Nower said. “It is our intention to work with the city and the heritage committee to identify areas of growth for us.”

But we know from past experience, Brantford doesn`t have the best record for preservation. I am rather surprised considering the hostility and fallout after the tearing down of those 41 buildings on the south side, anyone would discuss some like that again.

Then there is the comment of amassing the land, demolishing the building and then leaving the land vacant until needed. The idea of turning vacant land into parking lots- yes, Brantford needs more parking lots- when what we have now are underutilized as it stands now.

The University has done a lot of good for the downtown core. They should be commended for bringing some life downtown and for restoring a number of buildings. However, this should not give them carte blanche to do as they want.

1 comment:

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