Squeaky wheels get homes removed from heritage register, for now

Councillors want to add hundreds of properties to the heritage register, but agreed to hold off on eight buildings because their owners voiced complaints.

Planning committee agrees to reevaluate 8 properties amid confusion over process

This home on Concord Street in Ottawa is one of eight that has been temporarily removed from the list of properties being considered for the heritage register. (Google street view)


  • Council carried this report without questions at its Sept. 27, 2017 meeting.
  • Coun. Stephen Blais dissented.

The City of Ottawa's planning committee added hundreds of properties to the city's heritage register, but agreed to hold off on eight buildings because their owners complained.

Coun. Steven Blais called the move unfair to the people who didn't have time to come to City Hall to speak to the committee or aren't aware of the implications of the register on their properties.

"I don't think the failure to respond should be an indication of your support," Blais said. He wanted to see councillors halt the addition of all the properties.

The register, a list of buildings with some kind of heritage value, requires owners of buildings on the list to give the city 60 days notice if they want to demolish the buildings. That would allow city staff to investigate whether or not they should be saved.

City staff had recommended adding nearly 350 properties from Old Ottawa South and Old Ottawa East to the register.

But at Tuesday's meeting, homeowners said getting their houses added to the list would cripple their property values.

Some owners getting reprieve 

Robert Lee, who owns the building at 91 Concord St., said expert consultants have told him his property value could drop by as much as $250,000 if his home is added to the register.

He asked that his property be removed from consideration "given the damaging and harmful impact on my property value."​

The planning committee removed Lee's building from the list along with others who voiced their concerns, and said they will be reevaluated to see if there's any reason to take them off.

If the homes still qualify for the register, they will be brought back before councillors for another vote.

Lee said he's happy about the reprieve but still has concerns.

"I think there's still tremendous ambiguity about the process and inclusion and the registry and, most importantly, the financial impacts on homeowners," he said.

Heritage advocates say objections overblown

Coun. Tobi Nussbaum, chair of the built heritage subcommittee, said the buildings will be reevaluated based on the same heritage criteria as the first time. Property value concerns will not be taken into consideration.

"I would have no worry or concern that people will be treated differently," he said. He added anyone can appeal their property's addition to the list at any time.

A contingent of heritage advocates also appeared before the planning committee to defend the register, saying claims about sinking property values are often overblown and hypothetical.

Property values often go up when they are shown to have heritage value, according to Leslie Maitland, co-chair of Heritage Ottawa.

But Blais argued the process puts undue pressure on homeowners and that property owners' rights should supercede the heritage value of a particular building.

Updating the heritage register has been identified as a council priority, and there are already hundreds of properties on the list.

City council will vote on the final addition of the properties from Old Ottawa South and Old Ottawa East on Wednesday.