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Old Posted Dec 3, 2015, 6:46 PM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Calgary
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Originally Posted by eastcoastal View Post
I can't imagine a situation where someone would save a building they didn't have to. By the time a demolition permit is granted, I would expect the owner's paid enough in consulting and other fees that a major change in direction would be a huge deal. Out of curiousity, what has the experience been like in Calgary in this regard? I'd love to know if a list of "Buildings of Interest" results in much saving of buildings... If so, it might be a good use of tax dollars to create such a thing.
The Calgary (and some extent Alberta system) has 2 levels of protection and then one 'watch list'. So you have the Provincial Designation (much like NS); then a Municipal level of heritage designation (much like NS/HRM). Then there is what we call the 'historic resources list' - which is what I was suggesting.

So it's a list of sites, approved by council, that have zero Provincial or Municipal Heritage protection but have historic value based on criteria that Council has established through the Heritage Authority. Each site is flagged to staff so that when certain applications or proposals to change/redevelop these historic resource sites come in; they are circulated to the Heritage Planning staff for review.

Typically what will then happen is the heritage planners will become part of the conversation and work with the Development Planner and the applicant to find ways to retain and incorporate the building. It has had mixed success depending on the situation. One project I was involved in had an old building (known as the Ant Hill building) being proposed for demolition to be replaced with a new 8 storey mid-rise mixed use building). Heritage Planning was able to gain access to the site (with permission by the applicant) to do an assessment and determined the building had deteriorated to the point it had no heritage value left. It could not be restored - so they did not object to demolition because we had no methods to incentive them to incorporate it into the proposal (we couldn't provide tax credits for example).

But the heritage planners did ask that the historic sign of a business in the building (the Lido cafe) and some of the roof top cornice material be preserved and that a plaque with historic information on the lost building be put up on a prominent fa├žade of the building. As it turned out the cornice material couldn't be saved (too bad of a shape) but the new building is under construction and the sign will be incorporated into the building and the building was actually named "The Lido". The historic plaque will be on one of the prominent corners. This is the website for the building.

In other cases; planners were able to get the buildings incorporated into the proposal and restored or the proposals actually sought to restore the buildings as part of the plan. It's been a mixed bag frankly and the general feeling is that we might have more success if we had means to provide some historic tax credits (which we don't).

My feeling is that the list is an interesting way to identify buildings of interest from a heritage perspective but I think the heritage folks out here are much more understanding that a building on the historic resources inventory has no standing or protection whatsoever. It's just a flag to us to review things with an eye to keeping the building; if possible. It guarantees nothing...

Personally; I think if that type of system was used in HRM; it may cut down on some of the arguing of whether a building has historic value or not (not all of the arguing). It may also open up a better dialogue about retention versus removal - but that conversation would be strengthened if HRM also had historic tax credits to reduce costs of restoring buildings (which HRM does have, Calgary doesn't).
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