Ward 6 - 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: Mike Bloxam, Phil Squire


Mike Bloxam

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.

Designation of heritage properties is for the benefit of the community at large, and not tied to any one specific owner. Property owners will naturally change over time, and the goal is to conserve the building for future generations to enjoy.

I would be in favour of certain benefits for heritage properties to allow for financial relief in repairs or restoration that are needed over the natural course of time. Benefits must not be given to owners who intentionally leave buildings derelict.

We do need stronger by-laws and policies regarding the treatment of heritage buildings to ensure they remain viable structures. Demolition by neglect is happen far too frequently and must be reigned in.

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?

Demolition by neglect is a rampant problem in our city. We must start enforcing property standards in a more activist manner, rather than relying strictly on complaints from citizens. I am absolutely in favour of allowing City officials to enter empty buildings for inspection and the issuance of fines for owners who demolish or damage buildings on purpose without proper authorization.

Having a Heritage Building Protection Plan would be a huge benefit to property owners and the city, making clear what the expectations are for all parties involved.

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?

Adaptive reuse and sympathetic additions to heritage buildings are a must to ensure proper density and still allow for development in a neighbourhood. While not every building is necessarily worthy of preservation, the idea behind heritage conservation is to maintain the character of a neighbourhood and protect the most important aspects of the streetscape and individual buildings.

Encouraging adaptive reuse can be done through education and co-operation with a new potential owner to ensure that proper zoning is in place for the new use, assuming it is appropriate for the neighbourhood. We have seem some marvellous adaptive reuse take place in London, such as the former Gardener Galleries on York Street, the Aeolian Hall, Grosvenor Lodge, the Roundhouse, the Delta Armouries, and many more.

When an area is being studied, it needs to be intact during the study period to ensure that any potential unique characteristics are not lost through an alteration or 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?

As someone who wants to see better transit in our city as well as conservation of heritage properties, I would ensure that as plans go forward that each property and streetscape are examined closely to ensure that construction will have a minimal impact. There was a good compromise on the Richmond Street stretch north of Oxford Street to ensure that homes and businesses are not adversely affected - and this is an area with many architecturally important buildings. I would ensure this approach is taken in any area where neighbourhoods could be adversely impacted.

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

Yes! It's one of my highlighted issues. As a city, there is much more that we can do to conserve and protect our heritage buildings and streetscapes, as outlined in the responses to the questions above. I will advocate for designation of buildings where appropriate, and protection of neighbourhoods to preserve their unique character.


Phil Squire

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.

I have consistently supported the designation of properties as heritage by objectively applying facts. The wishes of the owner are not one of the criteria I apply for designation. The key challenge that faces heritage is the absence of funding to help owners to maintain their properties. I have advocated and will continue to advocate for the use of development fees and or bonusing to provide funds that can be used to maintain heritage properties.

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?

The term demolition by neglect has become very popular. What we really need to do is find out if there is anything we can legally do in addition to our present by-laws to protect all buildings. It is doubtful that we can legally enter buildings of any type without permission or fine heritage owners who did not cause destruction or demolition. I have in fact already met with the President of ACO and staff and we will be meeting again to determine how we can strengthen out by-laws. It is also important that the heritage community report any situations where they feel a heritage building is in peril. If I hear about such events I immediately get staff involved. I really feel strongly that we need to stop situations where council is asked to get involved with a building that has already been neglected for years.

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?

I have been an avid supporter of the Heritage Districts within my ward and will continue to do so. I would certainly support non-demolition when an area is being studied. The best way to encourage heritage conservation is to provide the funding needed to preserve properties. This can be done by allocating funds from our budget to a new Heritage Conservation Fund. That fund would be administered by staff and the heritage community and provide reasonable funding for heritage. We have to move away from the current practice of buildings falling into disrepair with no money available to retain them in the community. If developers and homeowners have access to heritage funds they will not have excuses not to preserve heritage structures.

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 am very concerned that properties in Ward 6 along the Richmond BRT route were not included in the new St. George Grosvenor HCD. I think this is a very bad sign for the many heritage buildings along the route. I have made it very clear that I will not support the demolition of these properties. Their presence defines the entire Old North area. I will insist that the London Plan and zoning be used to maintain these properties.

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

Yes. The creation of a new Heritage Conservation Fund is something that will be in my platform. I advocate for it whenever I can.


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