Heritage advocates want renovation grants restored

Heritage advocates say it is time for the City of Saint John to restore funding to its renovation grant program.

Saint John council cut renovation grant by more than half in March

Heritage advocates in Saint John say it is time for the city to restore funding to its renovation grant program.

The program was slashed by more than half to $90,000 in March when council was struggling with the pension deficit and construction development was slowing.

But Leona Laracey, the chairperson of the heritage conservation board, saisd the city is missing out by not having more money in the renovation grant program.

The lack of incentive money is holding back development, she said.

"As that grant program has decreased people are putting off projects," Laracey said.

Now that council has dealt with the city's pension issue, Laracey said she is hoping it will restore the $110,000 cut from the heritage program.

Keith Brideau, who owns heritage buildings in the city’s uptown, said the program helps property owners like him with buildings in conservation areas.

"It's very challenging. You know these are buildings that were built a 100 to 135 years ago," he said.

Brideau has used the funding program, but he said the amount he received was less than $5,000, a fraction of the actual cost.

Coun. Donna Reardon, city's council's representative on the heritage board, said she favours restoring the heritage restoration fund.

"It's a tough job, and it's an expensive job. So whatever the incentive is, I think we need something," she said.

Reardon said it is a cost free program with the small city investment repaid in added property tax revenue.

"We wouldn't lose money on that program," she said.