The riverfront circa 1915
The riverfront circa 1915

Brent Eades

by Brent Eades

Town Council agreed last night to begin the process of potentially having the central business district, the riverfront and adjacent areas designated as a provincial Heritage Conservation District. The vote in favour of Councillor John Edwards’ motion was unanimous.

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.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Culture, HCDs share common sets of characteristics:

  • A concentration of heritage buildings, sites, structures; designed landscapes, natural landscapes that are linked by aesthetic, historical and socio-cultural contexts or use.
  • A framework of structured elements including major natural features such as topography, land form, landscapes, water courses and built form such as pathways and street patterns, landmarks, nodes or intersections, approaches and edges.
  • A sense of visual coherence through the use of such elements as building scale, mass, height, material, proportion, colour, etc. that convey a distinct sense of time or place.

Our town’s waterfront and downtown surely meet these criteria and more.

Last night’s motion called for the publishing of a ‘Request for Proposal’ that would lead to the initial study phase of the HCD application process.

The designation of a Heritage Conservation District “enables the council of a municipality to manage and guide future change in the district, through adoption of a district plan with policies and guidelines for conservation, protection and enhancement of the area’s special character.”