More than a thousand downtown Hamilton property owners will get letters soon with some potentially surprising news: their homes are on a new list of heritage properties that need to be protected.
City councillors voted Tuesday to add 1,027 downtown properties to the municipal heritage register, which means it will be harder for those properties to be demolished.
The move is part of a sweeping effort called the Downtown Built Heritage Inventory, which aims to preserve historic buildings in Hamilton’s core.
If ratified by council next week, the property owners will get a letter telling them of their building’s inclusion on the list. Farr thinks it’ll get a positive reaction.
“I have a sense that a lot of people who have made the investment and bought a funky old building in that subject area did so because they loved the building,” he said, “and they’ll react positively to the fact that their building is now on a heritage list.”
ERA Architects submitted a 268-page report with outlining the properties and the public consultation process that happened earlier this year. The city planning committee will send the list of properties back to the municipal heritage committee, and the property owners will also receive letters.
The move impacts heritage buildings from Queen to Wellington and Hunter to Cannon, Farr said.
The inclusion means instead of the usual 20-day wait to get a demolition permit, affected property owners will have to wait 60 days and consult the public.
Coun. Brad Clark of Stoney Creek wondered if every property owner would be happy about their inclusion. It would be better, he said, to pair this with a grant program to help restore and maintain buildings.
“There are people who are living in homes that might end up getting designated that are quite concerned about it,” he said.
The city can use the guidelines set out by ERA Architects to do a future inventory of the rest of the city.
The timing of demolition permits for heritage buildings was a political issue in 2013. For months, the city worked with Hughson Business Space Corporation to save at least the facades of a block of buildings from 18 to 28 King St. E. in the Gore.
But when the corporation seemed poised to demolish the buildings, Farr successfully introduced a last-minute motion for the city to declare the buildings heritage properties. Now the developer has to reapply for demolition permits, and follow the city’s rules when it comes to heritage properties.