News Local

Back to the drawing board for heritage registry

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

Barrie's list of historical properties is headed back to the drawing board.

City council decided last night that a motion to add 81 properties to the city's municipal registry -- as those of cultural value or interest -- should be returned to Heritage Barrie, which created it.

This came after Bruce North became the latest property owner on the list to say he wanted no part of being on it. North said there had been little or no consultation with the property owners, despite a letter sent out to them in October.

"I have been a little disappointed in what has become a flagrant disregard for democracy," said North, the owner of 1 Berczy St.

Heritage Barrie has attempted to make it clear that being on the registry is not a precursor to designation under the Ontario Heritage Act, but just 60-days notice for any pending demolition permit.

North isn't buying it.

"It's clear to me as a property owner, we are now a good candidate to be designated," he said, after reading from the Ontario Heritage Act tool kit. "We do not want to be designated. We cannot run our hotel (Harbour View Inn)."

Coun. Andrew Prince, chairman of Heritage Barrie, asked why he hadn't heard North's concerns before.

"How come I was not approached with some of your concerns?" said Prince.

North did make a deputation to council in mid-December, but Prince was absent that night.

Returning this matter to Heritage Barrie will likely result in a public information meeting, and inviting all of the property owners who could be on the registry.

Prince has said the city will work with property owners so they understand the process and that staff would prepare a report on any properties that would be designated.

Being on the municipal register would mean that city staff will inform council members, by e-mail or memo, if a demolition or building permit is obtained for these properties.

Barrie has 17 properties designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, as being of cultural heritage value. If the owner of one of these properties wants to make changes that affect its heritage qualities, the owner needs the written consent of city council.

Steele's China and Gift Shop, which wasn't on the registry or designated under the Act, helped prompt the changes.

Located at 2 Collier St., at Bayfield Street, it was demolished last summer after its owners went through the proper channels to get a demolition permit. The building dated back to 1873 and was originally constructed for a company making wooden parts for carriages. Steele's China and Gift Shop occupied this building for several decades, until Harris Steele died on Dec. 16, 2007.

When his estate determined the property was too expensive to repair, and that it couldn't be sold in its current state, the demolition permit was obtained.

Barrie councillors considered designating 2 Collier St. as a heritage building, but couldn't get it done before the demolition had started.

Having a municipal registry would at least give council some notice of any pending demolitions.

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