Town considers difficulties with its heritage classifications

The issue of what to do with demolition permits for homes on the town’s heritage inventory was again a hot topic during Erin council’s last meeting of 2007.
After a meeting with the town’s heritage committee, planner Sally Stull asked on Dec. 18 if councillors would consider a classification system for the inventory list.
Currently the decision about what to do with a particular home on the list is “very subjective,” she said, and classifying homes as high, medium, or low priority would help address that.
At a previous meeting on Dec. 4 council approved the demolition of an 1891 Vic­torian red brick farmhouse on Highway 24, despite concerns expressed by the heritage committee.
Committee chairman Jeff Dun­can said under a new system most homes on the list would be classified as medium or low priority, because al­though all 600 buildings on the inventory list were built before 1930, not all of them have “heritage value.”
But the town has to have a process in place for when a high priority home comes to council for demolition, regardless of how often that would occur, Duncan added.
Councillor John Brennan asked what criteria will be used to decide if a home has heritage value.
Mayor Rod Finnie said Duncan had mentioned that the 2008 budget could include money to hire a consultant to decide the criteria to be used.
Councillor Barb Tocher said until the terms of reference for a classification are completed, the criteria for judging homes will simply be the expertise of the heritage committee.
Councillor Ken Chapman asked if in the future the inventory list will be expanded to include homes built before 1945 and so on.
“We’re going to end up with an endless list of every home that’s been built in the town,” Chapman said.
“That creates nothing but problems for probably 80 per cent of the people on the list.”
Tocher replied the other side of the argument is that there are currently homes that are unique and have heritage value that perhaps should be on the inventory list but are not be­cause they were built later than 1930.
Chapman said property owners should have the right to know if their home is on the list, because the inclusion means they eventually may be limited as to what they can do with the property.
Brennan agreed and said the town has to disclose to people that their house may be on the list and which category their home falls under.
Chapman asked that a time limit be put on any policy so the issue does not drag out.
Council unanimously ap­proved a resolution that stated that an interim policy be developed and that the policy is no longer in effect as of Dec. 18, 2009.