Opinion Letters

Heritage issues need much closer attention

Recently, there have been a number of stories in theExaminer tied to the City of Barrie's proposed list of historic homes.

Behind every story, is another side of the story.

Unfortunately, last spring, Barrie lost the historic Steele's China and Gift Shop (2 Collier St.) to the wrecking ball.

Had the Victorian carriage-maker's building been listed on Barrie's heritage register, city council would have had 60 days to work with the owner to find ways to save the building. However, because the building wasn't listed, the City of Barrie had no option but to immediately issue a demolition permit.

So learning from the past, Heritage Barrie worked throughout the summer to collect a list of 81 buildings, derived from the city's well-known heritage walking tours. These buildings tell a story, and offer a glimpse into their role in shaping our community. I am proud to say my home is on the list.

On Nov. 30, Barrie's development services committee supported Heritage Barrie's recommendation -to give these buildings some protection -and forwarded its motion to city council's general committee.

On Dec. 7, councillors supported the heritage listing and sent the motion to council.

It is part of Barrie parliamentary process that delegations may only speak in the negative to a motion being considered by council.

On Dec. 14th, the 81 additions to Barrie's heritage register were on the agenda. There were only three deputations against the motion: the churches, the Massies and the Harbourview Inn.

The numbers say it all. There was strong support for this Heritage Barrie initiative.

This issue was not dealt with at council and was referred back to general committee on Jan. 4, to be reviewed once more.

What's even more astonishing is that this disregard for heritage took place as Ontario's Minister of Culture, Barrie MPP Aileen Carroll, watched in the council chambers, after giving her annual update to Barrie.

What a bitter pill that must have been to watch as council failed to debate the issue at hand.

Let's hope 2010 will be a better year for heritage in Barrie.

Caroline Smith

Vice-chairperson of Heritage Barrie

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