Town hires heritage research firm; designation notices issued for 12 properties

Erin bypasses competitive bidding policy to hire Archaeological Research Associates for research on 46 properties

ERIN – The town is moving forward with heritage designations for 12 properties in the villages of Erin and Hillsburgh while under pressure from the provincial government.

The More Homes Built Faster Act, also known as Bill 23, boots undesignated properties from Erin’s heritage inventory list of over 600 properties if the properties aren’t granted legislative heritage status within two years.

Earlier this year, the town’s heritage committee identified 180 properties from the list, based on architectural, historical and environmental criteria.

The town has since decided on moving forward with 58 of the properties, and 12 research reports from Hamilton-based Archaeological Research Associates (ARA) are ready to go.

The town evaluated the firm on the 12 reports, which costed $25,000 to produce.

ARA handled the volume and provided a “unique research and reporting system” to produce reports in a “cost-effective manner” to the town, planning director Jack Krubnik told council in September.

Based on Krubnik’s recommendation, council skirted the town’s competitive bidding process to hire ARA to carry out the research needed to designate the 46 remaining properties, at a cost of $96,300.

“The heritage consultant … has risen to our challenge to both accommodate our heritage designation reporting volume, and can deliver them within the required legislative timelines,” Krubnik said.

To pay for the work, $75,000 will be withdrawn from the town’s heritage reserve account, and staff will ask council to approve more funds in the 2024 budget.

With the 12 reports now ready, the town has issued a notice of intent; part of the legal process to designate a property.

Most of the properties, with the exception of one on Church Street, are situated along Trafalgar Road in Hillsburgh.

“I’ve had personal contact from some of the 12,” councillor Jamie Cheyne said at an Oct. 12 meeting.

Though some are fully on board, others, he said, “are not excited about it, putting it mildly.”

Cheyne called for public education, noting, “We’re basically … trying to save the structure.”

He also asked Krubnik and ARA heritage project manger Amy Barnes about “unfriendly designations.”

“I feel fairly confident that we’ll move forward with most of these,” Krubnik said, in part, noting the town will go friendly-first, and try to address any opposition directly.

Objections to the designations can be made to the town until Nov. 17.

Without objections, a bylaw will be brought to council to designate the properties under the province’s Heritage Act.

It will be up to council to decide on whether to move forward with a forced designation, if any formal objections are made.

For a complete listing of detailed intention notices, including photographs, click or tap here and view “current notices of intention to designate.”