Well last night at Council was a bit of a long drawn out process of discussing for the most part one specific item. The agenda item in question was the recommendations from the Heritage committee in regards to the delisting the properties on 12, 16 Tyler St and 55, 57, 57a Temperance St from the Aurora Register of Properties of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest. A few delegates spoke before Council asking Council to consider deferring this item as some felt that the delistings should not be approved until the application for the United Church is dealt with. This led to considerable discussion around the table. Council’s role in these type of decisions, as I have previously stated is to decide whether the property that is asking for delisting should be designated or delisted. That is what Council should be debating. Not the merits of the future application to build – that is a separate matter that will be deliberated at both Public Planning and Council. Under the Act if a property applies for a demo permit then Council has 60 days to make a decision otherwise the demo permit is approved automatically. Thus the decision before Council was to decide whether these properties warrant being designated or not. The discussion around the table was unanimous – these properties did not warrant designation. While I believe this Council very much supports protecting historically significant properties as do I, it also is our job to make a decision and not leave the matter of designating a property in limbo. Listing or delisting is not a tool that should be considered with respect to a future planning application. On a unanimous vote Council approved the recommendation from the Heritage Committee to remove these properties from the list.
The other 2 items I would like to take a minute to speak about are the 2 motions I had put forward. The first is the Vacant Property Tax. The province has announced the new housing rules one of which is to allow Toronto and any other interested municipality to look at taxing vacant properties. As I said at the table this is something that municipalities have talked about for a long time and wished that we had the ability to do. While the province has not given any specifics to how this legislation will work I think it is important that Aurora take the lead and state that we would like the ability to implement this tax. The purpose of the motion is to state to the Province that we as a municipality would like to be able to utilize this new housing rule to tax vacant properties. The motion further asks that staff report back to Council with what the legislation will entail and what can be specifically utilized by Aurora. I am looking forward to be able to use new housing tools as I agree with the Province and other municipalities that have been advocating for this, that it is indeed a tool that can help curb speculation in the Aurora housing market while also helping with empty storefronts. This motion passed unanimously.
The second motion I had and last item I will talk about in this week’s update is a joint motion I had with Councillor Thom. Our motion looks to developing a commemorative plaque that will celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday while promoting and celebrating our Town’s heritage properties. The motion asked for staff to identify those properties constructed in 1867 and then present them with a plaque for being a sesquicentennial home at the Canada Day festivities. This motion passed unanimously.