Ward 9 - 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: Anna Hopkins
No response received: Ben Charlebois, Matt Millar, Kyle Thompson, Veronica Marie Warner

Anna Hopkins

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.

If the property meets the designation of heritage I have and will support designations. The only time I did not support a designation was when I heard that the community was 100% against keeping the facade of a heritage building and was 100% supportive of a new shinny building. Sometimes we are faced with balancing community wants and our policies which are the most difficult for me.

I support municipal property tax breaks and any other breaks the municipality can offer to protect heritage properties. A few years ago I was supportive of Bill C-323 introducing a 20% tax credit for rehabilitation work done on designated heritage buildings.

I support all financial assistance and advice, support funding, by-laws and policies that encourage heritage conservation.

I would support properties being designated before prospective buyers purchase them. There should be a greater responsibility placed on real estate agents and owners when heritage properties are exchanged. Making new owners/developers aware that it is a heritage building and the requirements to conserve must be explained.

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?

As a member of the Planning and Environmental Committee for the past two years I have been frustrated when demolition by neglect occurs. It usually is too late to do anything. I would support a stronger by-law that would create opportunities to encourage maintenance of neglected buildings to revitalize buildings and retain affordable housing.

I am in favour of the City enforcing property and building standards for all heritage structures as well as issuing fines to property owners and developers who allow buildings to be destroyed. Unfortunately that is not the solution as the City usually loses these cases because we can not enforce owners to take care of their buildings.

We need a better solution. When it comes to City owned heritage buildings the City should be allowed to do its own enforcement as it is in the best interest of the City to maintain its heritage buildings.

The Heritage Building Protection Plan is a good plan for other municipalities but I am not sure if it is the best plan for the City of London. I can see the plan working when an application for development of a subdivision triggers the plan. Most of our heritage buildings in London are downtown owned by developers or individuals already. How do we get owners to buy into the plan? Is there a better way?

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?

It is important that the owner of any heritage building be transparent and accountable to the community. It is important that the owner let the community know what the plans for the structure will be and not circumvent the system. How can you balance the needs of development and the neighbourhood if we are not aware of the plans.

Encouraging affordable housing in our City is a priority and we need to do more to explore other opportunities that may be available when it comes to adaptive reuse of our heritage buildings.

We have areas in London that are being studied as potential Heritage Conservation Districts. It would be foolish if we did not support moratoriums on demolition.

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?

The City must be responsible to ensure that the London Plan's provisions to protect heritage properties along the BRT are implemented. The current BRT plan so far has been the best plan but if there is a better plan I will listen.

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

For the past 30 years I have been an advocate in my community encouraging better protection for our environment and our heritage. These are values that I have difficulty compromising. We can do a better job when it comes to evaluating our properties, stronger by-laws to enforce stewardship of our heritage properties and provide incentives or grants to allow owners to rehabilitate heritage buildings. Visitors to our City always remind me that what makes London unique is the heritage of our natural spaces and our buildings.

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