Last night Council dealt with yet another iteration of a heritage permit application at 74 Centre Street. Once again, the application was before council for review and approval. As I said at the table, this redevelopment is welcomed; however, what is not welcomed is a design and built form that does not conform to the Heritage District Plan. While a triplex would be a great addition to the area as it would add more housing stock including much needed rentals, this is in an area that has specific built form guidelines that must be met. Leaving aside the fact that this proposed redevelopment will need to go to the Committee of Adjustment for variances, this application does not conform to the requirements of the Heritage District Plan.
Specifically, per section 9.1.2 Overall Site and Scale Conditions:
“Key elements of scale, massing and site which predominate in the northeast old aurora neighbourhood and should be maintained are as follows:
- The predominant Single Detached dwelling form;
- Side yard driveways and rear or flankage yard garages which results in generous side-yard spacing between buildings;
- Generous rear yard amenity space;
- Front yard porches and verandas;
- A compatible range of building heights and styles;
- Consistent alignment of buildings in the streetscape”
This proposed development does not conform to multiple elements of the guidelines. While some may argue that the District Plan is just a set of guidelines and it is the zoning that is important, I will remind everyone that when it comes to heritage permit applications heritage trumps planning…. And that is made clear in the terms of the Heritage District plan where it states in section 7.3 Land Use and Built Form in the District Policy subsection “b”:
“Notwithstanding 7.3 a., policies and guidelines included in the heritage district plan which further refine standards established in the zoning by-law to ensure compatibility with the heritage district context shall prevail under the authority provided by Section 41.2 (2) of the Ontario Heritage Act.”
The key word in that clause is shall….. Not may, but shall prevail… So in other words the heritage district plan supersedes the zoning. This is why Heritage districts are created; to ensure that the built form of new or renovated properties continue to keep the character of the community. If we are simply going to disregard the Heritage District Plan then why have a plan at all….. If we are to protect our heritage properties and continue to grow our heritage districts in a responsible way, new proposals need to conform to the plans that we as a Town have laid out.
With respect to 74 Centre st, as this applications does not conform (it might be close but it does not conform), Council in the majority moved a recommendation to extend the heritage permit for another 60 days so that the applicant can make the necessary changes to conform with the Heritage District Plan. This motion passed 6 – 1 ( Councillor Gaertner Opposed). I am pleased to note that the applicant is willing to extend the heritage permit another 60 days to work with the Town and the area residents to come up with a design that conforms to the plan. I am looking forward to when this permit application comes back to us so that we can move forward with a great addition to our Heritage District.