I hope Kitchener councillors and heritage officials have the backbone to stand up to blatantly arrogant regional heritage colleagues who are determined to demolish two quality homes on Queen Street just south of Joseph Schneider Haus.
And in early fall when the self-involved Region comes to Kitchener council seeking permission to flatten the houses, I hope residents join me in opposing the ill-conceived proposal.
The boarded-up, 90-year-old houses the Region want to demolish are located at the bottom of Schneider Avenue and form part of the supposedly protected Victoria Park heritage conservation district.
The Region has owned the houses for 28 years but has done nothing to add them to the Schneider Haus property. The Region also did nothing when it had the opportunity to exempt the houses from the neighbourhood heritage district created in the mid-1990s.
In my opinion, if the Region now succeeds at demolishing the houses, it will set what Kitchener’s co-ordinator of heritage planning Leon Bensason describes as “a dangerous precedent” in what represents one of the city’s most beautiful communities
That precedent could involve any developer who buys one or more homes in the Victoria Park neighbourhood and announces he or she wants to flatten the properties and build something else. The developer would then point to the Region’s demolitions and use them as justification for circumventing city heritage regulations.
Dealing with this property issue in confidence during recent years, Kitchener has consistently told the Region it opposes the demolitions. Regional officials waited until Kitchener councillors, city heritage committee members and many residents went on July vacations before going public with the proposal and rushing to organize public information meetings.
Then, at a time when the Region has at least 10,000 seniors, adults and children on a waiting list for affordable housing, the Region insisted the two homes are unsuitable for low-cost shelter.
They claim the houses cost too much to maintain to which I argue the region should sell or continue to rent the properties. They would be worth about $1million if sold and that cash could, among other things, be used to upgrade Schneider Haus.
If , like me, you live around the park, and want to sound off about the region’s self-involved proposal I would suggest you attend an open house at Schneider Haus, 466 Queen St.S. on Wednesday July 12 from 5 to 7 p.m. (presentation 6.30 p.m.) Or go to http://www.engageregionofwaterloo.ca/.
And whatever you think, don’t count on the local media for fair, balanced coverage of an important issue that has to date produced predictably shallow, one-sided regional arguments on the topic.
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