Ward 11 - 2018 London Municipal Election Candidate Survey

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Architectural Conservancy Ontario - London Region (ACO London) sent an online survey on heritage issues to candidates running for City Council in the upcoming municipal election. The survey asked candidates about their thoughts on issues such as heritage conservation, ‘demolition by neglect’, and adaptive re-use of older buildings. This is the second time ACO London has surveyed local municipal election candidates, the first was for the 2014 election.

Responses received: Menno Meijer, Vicki Van Linden, Stephen Turner
No response received: Paul-Michael Anderson, Eric H Deleeuw, Rachel Powell


Menno Meijer

Would you consider designating a property with heritage or cultural value against the owner’s wishes? Do you support municipal property tax breaks for heritage properties? Do you support financial assistance and advice to those who seek to conserve, restore, and maintain their heritage properties? Do you support funding, by-laws, and policies that encourage heritage conservation? Please specify any initiatives that you would propose.

Yes I would consider designating a property as a heritage building without the owners consent when warranted. If it would cause undue hardship there should be a method of compensation. A heritage designation benefits the whole city so one individual should not be solely responsible for the cost of that designation. I would encourage heritage conservation. To approve a by-law I would first have to read and study it to consider any and all possible ramifications of enforcement. I believe our best guide for this type of endeavour is lengthy consultation with those who have studied and dedicated their time to seeking solutions.

How would you deal with the issue of ‘demolition by neglect’? Are you in favour of the City enforcing property and building standards for all heritage structures, including allowing city by-law inspectors to legally enter empty buildings on a frequent and regular basis to ensure that property and building standards are being upheld? Would you support issuing fines to property owners and developers who allow buildings to be destroyed by non-accidental fire, illegal demolition, or other acts of negligent destruction? Do you agree London should adopt a Heritage Building Protection Plan initiative such as other municipalities have implemented that would require property owners and developers to submit and implement plans to maintain and secure heritage structures throughout development approval processes?

If the City is standing in the way of a property owner selling a building or replacing it, the city should be prepared to purchase the property at fair market value. If a building is purposely being left empty, the city should consider expropriation and paying fair market value as of the time of the purchase considering the condition of the structure. If a building has been given a heritage designation and the owner purposely causes or allows damage to occur, there should be some recourse by the city, including expropriation and purchase as stated above. This would deter any such practice. I believe private owners, who knowingly purchase heritage properties do develop, renovate, or in any way make improvements should submit those plans for approval. I would rather see the City take ownership of heritage properties when appropriate and make use of them in any way that preserves their viability.

How would you balance development pressures against the community’s desire to conserve heritage structures and neighbourhoods? How would you encourage the adaptive reuse of London’s built heritage when its original uses are no longer feasible? Do you support, in principle, neighbourhood-specific moratoriums on demolitions while an area is being studied as a potential Heritage Conservation District?

The Delta Armoury Hotel is a wonderful example of integrating a heritage building into a new development. The character of the corner is maintained while business and growth continue. In Toronto the National Ballet School expanded around an old building by making the addition with glass walls so the original building is still visible from the street. That type of innovation and integration is highly desirable to me. It may be argued that the Budweiser Gardens' replacement of the old corner of Dundas and Talbot is less than satisfactory, there was a genuine attempt to preserve the ground-level appearance of that site. We live at ground level. Preservation of the feel of the city, the things that make it unique and the things that remind us of our past, are deeply important to our future growth. The idea of heritage conservation districts is intriguing, however, I have not given this enough thought to comment properly.

What steps would you champion as a member of Council to ensure that the London Plan’s provisions to protect heritage properties along the BRT routes are implemented?

Same as above.

Do you plan to incorporate built heritage issues into your campaign platform? How? Please include any additional comments you would like to share.

I have not included build heritage in my platform. I am deeply concerned about the destruction of properties to accommodate more plastic strip malls and fast food outlets. They add nothing to our city. In European Cities where a chain of restaurants want to do business, they must do so without destroying the buildings where they want to do business. We could learn a lot from just looking beyond our own backyard. A "patio" in an asphalt parking lot at the intersection of two major arteries with power lines and no trees or greenery is not the future I envision for London. We can do much better.


Stephen Turner

Would you consider designating a property with heritage or cultural value against the owner’s wishes? Do you support municipal property tax breaks for heritage properties? Do you support financial assistance and advice to those who seek to conserve, restore, and maintain their heritage properties? Do you support funding, by-laws, and policies that encourage heritage conservation? Please specify any initiatives that you would propose.

The Ontario Heritage Act allows municipalities to designate properties or districts as ‘Heritage’.  As a councillor and a member of council’s Planning and Environment Committee, I have had occasion to designate numerous properties under the provisions of this Act.  I believe it’s an important tool for municipalities in order to ensure careful consideration of the fate of our heritage inventory.  My preference is that the owner agrees with the designation but, regardless, owners of any property that could be considered a heritage asset need to recognize the role they play in the stewardship of their property. 

It must be recognized that a heritage designation does not prevent alteration or demolition, but rather it ensures that the community, staff and council carefully considers any application for these acts.  

Over the course of this term, I have been a staunch advocate for preservation of our heritage inventory.  I supported the elimination of the vacancy tax rebate (which was an impediment to promoting adaptive reuses) and continue to support the tax increment grants for heritage restorations and development charges equivalent grants for adaptive reuse of historic buildings.

How would you deal with the issue of ‘demolition by neglect’? Are you in favour of the City enforcing property and building standards for all heritage structures, including allowing city by-law inspectors to legally enter empty buildings on a frequent and regular basis to ensure that property and building standards are being upheld? Would you support issuing fines to property owners and developers who allow buildings to be destroyed by non-accidental fire, illegal demolition, or other acts of negligent destruction? Do you agree London should adopt a Heritage Building Protection Plan initiative such as other municipalities have implemented that would require property owners and developers to submit and implement plans to maintain and secure heritage structures throughout development approval processes?

Unfortunately, this has been a strategy used too often to circumvent the heritage alteration process.  This term, I have supported measures to minimize the risk that a heritage asset could fall victim to deterioration.  This has included ensuring maintaining heat, power and security to the designated South Street hospital buildings until they can be redeveloped, placing make safe orders on buildings in poor repair, removing the vacancy tax rebate and, in one circumstance, using HER zoning rules to give absolute protection to a building at risk of demolition.  

There are more steps that can be taken and I am certainly open to exploring those further.

How would you balance development pressures against the community’s desire to conserve heritage structures and neighbourhoods? How would you encourage the adaptive reuse of London’s built heritage when its original uses are no longer feasible? Do you support, in principle, neighbourhood-specific moratoriums on demolitions while an area is being studied as a potential Heritage Conservation District?

When applications are brought forward for alteration or demolition of a building on the heritage inventory or listed as a heritage property, I spend the time to read through the heritage impact assessment conducted by the proponent’s consultant, our administration’s review of the assessment, as well as the recommendations of the London Advisory Committee on Heritage.  In making my decision, I seek the best outcome for the public good.  Most often, that has meant I have sided with the arguments for preservation of heritage buildings. 

There are often options left unexplored to ensure that heritage buildings have the best opportunity to be preserved, either intact or as a component of a redevelopment project.  I have been clear to proponents that it essential that those are considered and pursued, where feasible.  

In the upcoming Development Charges study, I would like to see the City adopt policies that provide for lower DCs in the built areas of the city with higher DCs in greenfield developments.  Our current policies average out the cost of infrastructure funded by DCs across the city without reflecting the true cost on an area basis (it costs more to put roads and pipes in for a new subdivision than it does for servicing an infill development because the services are already there for infill).  This policy would help to promote adaptive reuse of buildings as it would result in lower development charges for those projects. 

In working with staff to draft updates to the infill and intensification guidelines, I was supportive of using an Interim Control Bylaw to pause demolitions in order to avoid an increase in demolitions by those rushing to avoid new regulations.  In certain limited circumstances, this may be appropriate when considering new heritage conservation districts, but there would have to be evidence that there was a risk of increased demolition activity prior to new policies being enacted.

What steps would you champion as a member of Council to ensure that the London Plan’s provisions to protect heritage properties along the BRT routes are implemented?

There are very few heritage buildings that would be directly impacted by the BRT routes.  In most circumstances, the impacts would be limited to a reduction in the front yard setbacks from the road.  The BRT Master Plan details with great specificity the impacts and mitigation plans for heritage properties along the route.  I will ensure that our project team takes all reasonable steps to protect our heritage resources along the routes.

Do you plan to incorporate built heritage issues into your campaign platform? How? Please include any additional comments you would like to share.

My platform will touch on ensuring we further develop policies to protect our built and natural heritage. As previously mentioned, advocating for improved application of development charges, continuing to grow the number of heritage conservation districts, and giving thoughtful consideration to how we designate heritage assets are all central to my approach to supporting heritage in our city.


Vicki Van Linden

Would you consider designating a property with heritage or cultural value against the owner’s wishes? Do you support municipal property tax breaks for heritage properties? Do you support financial assistance and advice to those who seek to conserve, restore, and maintain their heritage properties? Do you support funding, by-laws, and policies that encourage heritage conservation? Please specify any initiatives that you would propose.

1. Yes, it's necessary to designate and protect properties with heritage or cultural value, even against the wishes of the owner when the case warrants preservation. 

2. In some cases I may vote to support municipal property tax breaks for heritage properties. Each case would need to be reviewed. Maintaining a healthy tax base is essential for all the work of the city and for providing the services that Londoners need, such as responding to the crisis of homelessness. Not all heritage property owners face economic impacts from owning a heritage-designated property, so I would not support a blanket tax break for simply owning a heritage property. 

In cases where an owner is facing an economic harship by being prevented from tearing down or redeveloping a heritage property a tax incentive/break may be appropriate.

3. I do support providing advice to property owners to encourage the conservation, restoration, and maintenance of heritage properties. Financial incentives in the form of loans could be offered on a case by case basis only if needed to preserve the property. But we need to consider that financial incentives would essentially come from other London property owners who bear the full burden of maintaining their own properties. While it's an important social value to preserve heritage, tax fairness to all is also important. An owner of a modest home should not subsidize someone's high-end home because its a heritage property.

We could establish an annual honour's list of property owners who have done restorations that enhance heritage preservation to support a community culture of pride in heritage preservation.

4. Yes, I support funding, by-laws and policies that encourage heritage conservation. I believe that well-written by-laws and policies shape a city and its community culture, and can influence community values.

Initiative Proposal: It seems that conflicts arise when people purchase properties for an intended purpose, but find out after making the purchase that the property has cultural or heritage importance that will impede their intended plan. I would ask that the city's Heritage Advisory Committee and groups like the Architectural Conservancy Ontario - London Region work with city staff to devise a system of identifying properties city-wide that have heritage potential so that property buyers can know in advance of purchasing how they will be able to proceed. I believe this would reduce conflicts and prevent situations where owners of heritage properties allow them to deteriorate instead of maintaining and re-purposing them. Summer work programs that make use of grants from upper levels of government could be used to hire temporary staff to do this work. If the city had a clear and easily accessible catalogue of heritage-designated properties and districts, with clear guide-lines of what will be allowed or not allowed, conflicts can be avoided.

How would you deal with the issue of ‘demolition by neglect’? Are you in favour of the City enforcing property and building standards for all heritage structures, including allowing city by-law inspectors to legally enter empty buildings on a frequent and regular basis to ensure that property and building standards are being upheld? Would you support issuing fines to property owners and developers who allow buildings to be destroyed by non-accidental fire, illegal demolition, or other acts of negligent destruction? Do you agree London should adopt a Heritage Building Protection Plan initiative such as other municipalities have implemented that would require property owners and developers to submit and implement plans to maintain and secure heritage structures throughout development approval processes?

1. We need to hold property owners responsible for maintaining their properties, especially those that are heritage-designated. In cases of an owner of a single property who is financially unable to maintain the property, the city could look at modest grant programs or loans; but ultimately it is not the responsibility of the city to help an owner keep a property they cannot afford to maintain.  

In the case of properties owned by developers who have the means, but perhaps not the desire to maintain the building, the municipality needs to look be as proactive as possible. Properties should be inspected at regular intervals to ensure they are maintained, and if work is needed the municipality could first, order the work to be done. If the work is not done, then the city can do the work and bill the property owner through use of liens on the property.

2. Yes, inspectors should be able to legally enter and inspect empty building without prior notice as needed.

3. Fines should be assigned in the cases outlined. But it would be better to be proactive by conducting inspections and issuing work orders to maintain the property, followed up by having the work done, then charged to the property owner when necessary. Fires are of particular concern and there should be legal consequences for property owners who do not sufficiently secure their properties to prevent malicious or accidental fires.

4. Yes, London should adopt a Heritage Building Protection Plan.

How would you balance development pressures against the community’s desire to conserve heritage structures and neighbourhoods? How would you encourage the adaptive reuse of London’s built heritage when its original uses are no longer feasible? Do you support, in principle, neighbourhood-specific moratoriums on demolitions while an area is being studied as a potential Heritage Conservation District?

1. I believe that this needs to be examined on a case by case basis. While I value the need to preserve heritage and culturally significant structures, communities do not always agree on what is worthy of preservation and there are competing social needs to be addressed. These are discussions that need to take place in relation to the significance of the heritage structure and the benefits of using the land in different ways. We do have an affordable housing crisis that must be addressed. I don't believe that it's possible or desirable to maintain neighbourhoods in a static state, but respect for community interests must be paid. 

Infill development is the most environmentally friendly and sustainable form of development, and these are important concerns as well. It's reasonable to insist that infill development be compatible with the existing neighbouhood, but this does not mean that only single-family detached homes can be built in a traditional neighbourhood. The need to protect the environment by reducing urban sprawl, and providing rental apartment units which are desperately needed are also critically important social needs. 

2. The city could honour property owners who re-purpose heritage buildings with awards to develop a culture of pride in creative re-purposing.

3. Yes, this makes sense in principle to prevent hurried demolitions to avoid heritage designation. There would need to be an appeal process to allow for the taking down of a property that poses a safety risk that cannot be reasonably remedied.

What steps would you champion as a member of Council to ensure that the London Plan’s provisions to protect heritage properties along the BRT routes are implemented?

I do not support the creation of dedicated lanes, the most contentious aspect of the plan. I do support creation of bus bays to enhance traffic movement, and this may involve expropriation of some properties, but on a much smaller scale than the creation of dedicated lanes. 

Richmond Street in particular is not suitable for dedicated lanes and I would do all I can to see they are not built there. Since funding from the federal government has not yet been assigned, and the newly-elected provincial government has not stated its intention, it appears that the BRT plan can still be re-worked by the new council.

I do support building high-quality bus station/shelters along Richmond and other key routes and this may cause some neighbourhood impacts, but this would be better balanced between meeting our transit needs and preserving neighbourhoods.

Do you plan to incorporate built heritage issues into your campaign platform? How? Please include any additional comments you would like to share.

My platform is focused on the homeless crisis, affordable housing, and fiscal responsibility to allow us to direct funding to essential programs that all Londoners, especially the vulnerable and disadvantaged, need. 

While there are many important aspects to a thriving city, including heritage preservation, I believe we need to focus on the urgent crisis of Londoners whose lives are deteriorating due to lack of services, housing and facilities. For the next four years I propose that London declare homelessness and housing a top priority.

Nevertheless, I value and will surely support the many other important aspects of municipal life like the arts, culture, sport, recreation, and heritage. Without these our city would be bleak. 

I also support inclusion of progressive animal welfare policies, by-laws, and services; environmental protection and preservation of natural lands as important aspects of a compassionate and healthy community.


Thank you to those candidates who took the time to complete our survey. For those who did not respond before the survey closed, we welcome your comments.

We encourage all Londoners to attend candidates’ meetings and debates to learn more about their ideas and suggestions on built heritage and other issues. To find out more information about when and where to vote, and the candidates running for Mayor or Councillor visit the City of London’s Elections webpage.

Shawn Adamsson