Ward 4 - 2018 London Municipal Election Candidate Survey

ACO Heritage Matters.jpg

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: Jesse Helmer, Tricia Lystar, Stephen William Orser
No response received: Connor Garrett, Xuemei Jiang


Jesse Helmer

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, if the property merits heritage designation. I have voted accordingly while serving on council.

2. Depends on the specifics of the property tax break. I do not support the vacancy tax rebate, for example. I do support measures delivered through the Heritage Community Improvement Plan, such as the Tax Increment Grant and the Development Charge Equivalent Grant, which encourage and support rehabilitation and improvement of heritage properties. I also support specific area community improvement plans, such as the Old East Village CIP, through which facade improvement and building code upgrade loans are delivered for designated and non-designated buildings along the commercial corridor.

3. Again, it would depend on the details of the financial assistance program. I certainly support advice from heritage planning staff to owners of heritage properties, which is provided now.

4. Absolutely.

5. I would support using some of the $1.8 million annually that was previously spent on the vacancy tax rebate as a source of financing for the Heritage Community Improvement Plan. I would support hiring additional heritage planning staff to improve the city’s ability to complete heritage conservation districts more quickly.

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. This is an ongoing issue. The best solution is for property owners to look after their buildings. But we know that enforcement of property and building code standards is, unfortunately, necessary in some circumstances. Proactive inspection is important.

2. Yes. Bylaw enforcement and the fire service already pay close attention to vacant properties, but I believe heritage designated buildings require regular inspections.

3. It would depend on the type of fine proposed and the circumstances. In general, I favour proactive measures that avoid or prevent the loss of our built heritage over punitive fines that are applied after the built heritage is destroyed. But there should be consequences for any illegal acts.

4. It’s an interesting idea. I’d like to learn more about it.

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. We’ve some great examples of adaptive re-use of heritage buildings in Ward 4. The old Kellogg’s factory, for example, has been retained and re-purposed into an indoor recreational establishment, The Factory, that builds on the industrial heritage of the building and takes advantage of the unique features of the property, including an enormous room with 100’ ceilings. The old McCormick factory is being retained and re-purposed into apartments, with new residential to be built on the back portions of the property. Downtown, the new Fanshawe College campus shows how heritage features can be retained and incorporated into new development. It’s a false dichotomy to think of development or heritage. We can have both. We need to see more developers using heritage alteration permits rather than demolishing buildings in order to build new structures. Similarly, we need to direct intensification towards surface parking lots rather than sites with heritage buildings on them right now.

2. By supporting designation of properties that merit designation under the Ontario Heritage Act, properly staffing our heritage planning department, refusing demolitions of heritage properties when they should be refused, supporting heritage alteration permits that allow for heritage features to be retained in a development that integrates old and new, and supporting budget measures through the Heritage CIP and other CIPs that encourage heritage conservation and adaptive re-use. I would also like to see a uniform development charge for commercial and industrial buildings, so that people who are creating new commercial businesses in older industrial buildings in the core are not paying development charges simply for a change in use.

3. I would be open to an interim control bylaw for an area that is being studied, as long as it was well-scoped and relatively short in duration.

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 bigger development pressure on heritage properties would come from not building BRT, as a review of the many surface parking lots downtown that have been created over time to make room for more and more cars shows. Our downtown was designed and built out before the automobile was popular. We had streetcars running along the future rapid transit corridors for decades -- indeed, the London Street Railway is part of our heritage. By focusing intensification along the rapid transit corridors and transit villages, more people can live, shop and work in the core of our city, which supports the continued viability of all of the heritage buildings in the core. The London Plan policies regarding development along the rapid transit corridors, along with the London Plan policies regarding heritage, will be our guides as we consider any development proposal that impacts our built heritage. I would support a BRT baseline monitoring report, similar to the LRT baseline monitoring report produced by Waterloo Region, to keep a close eye on changes along the rapid transit corridors, including heritage buildings. Heritage is included in Waterloo Region’s reporting.

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

Yes, I will advocate for a uniform development charge rate for commercial and industrial properties to address the existing disincentive to repurposing existing industrial buildings to new uses.

I'm open to ideas that Londoners have about how we can better conserve our built heritage.


Tricia Lystar

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.

- Under certain circumstances, yes. However, I recognize there may be barriers in doing so which should be accommodated.
- Yes
- Yes
- Yes
- I would propose seeing a volunteer survey presented to council including heritage properties of importance that do not have heritage status.

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?

- I would request an investigation with the appropriate departments and meet with community members to gather further information.

- In theory, yes. I would have to see the specifics of the by-law before confirming support.

- Yes, provided that this could be proved without exorbitant cost to the city (by means of investigations beyond the normal).

- In theory, dependent upon the details.

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 feel it’s important to recognize the importance of development, especially within the urban core of the city. However, I do think design limitations/creative design, height restrictions and zoning regulations can all be considered when looking into development needs alongside community input.

- Conversion of an interior while leaving the exterior as intact as possible could be one way to look at reusing previously purposed buildings.

- In theory, yes.

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 current proposed BRT plan, but if it does get the support of the new council, I would advocate strongly to city staff to implement a plan which would allow for heritage properties to be protected if at all possible.

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 does not specifically address heritage issues, but I recognize their importance in preserving and highlighting the history of our amazing city.


Stephen William Orser

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/ No very unfair to property owner.
2/No
3/No
4/ No
5/ None

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/ With the existing laws.
2/ Yes everyone must follow the existing laws.
3/ With the existing laws.
4/No

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 would listen to the people on the issue.
2/ I would not, sometimes a building out lives its life.
3/ No

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?

None, I will cancel the BRT day one on the new council as I have promised the voters of Ward 4 . So the BRT is not an issue to heritage properties whatsoever.

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

No


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