Town Council finally voted last Tuesday to proceed with the first stage of a project that could see parts of Almonte’s downtown and riverfront designated a provincial Heritage Conservation District (HCD) – a move that could protect our community from harmful development schemes in the decades to come.
The initial motion to undertake a study of obtaining a heritage designation was tabled by Councillor John Edwards in June of last year, and was passed unanimously.
But in November when Council prepared to vote on the actual allocation of funds for the study, some members appeared hesitant to proceed. A compromise was worked out, calling for a preliminary public meeting meant to gauge interest in the plan.
That meeting was held in March and drew a sizable crowd of clearly supportive citizens. Last Tuesday’s vote paves the way to proceed with the full HCD study, which will entail extensive public consultation.
The concept of a Heritage Conservation District (HCD) was established under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1980, and since that time over 75 areas throughout the province have been designated in recognition of their cultural heritage value and special character. Examples in this region include the downtowns of Arnprior and Perth, as well as numerous districts of Ottawa.
A 2009 province-wide study entitled Heritage Districts Work! showed that the obtaining of a Heritage designation has been a highly beneficial experience for the dozens of Ontario communities that have successfully implemented it.