Kitchener-Waterloo

​Kitchener will now get heritage advice before demolishing designated buildings

The City of Kitchener has approved a new policy that the city will get professional advice before making any decisions about tearing down an unsafe heritage property.
The former Mayfair Hotel has been demolished, but not without controversy. The building was deemed structurally unsound after a severe flood in the building's basement in April, 2015. (Jane van Koeverden/CBC News)

The City of Kitchener has approved a new policy that will see the city get professional advice before making any decisions about tearing down an unsafe heritage property.

The Built Heritage Emergency Management policy was approved Monday night by council. 

It's modelled after a similarly-named policy in Hamilton and applies to buildings listed on the Municipal Heritage Register as well as those that have been designated, or are in the process of being designated, under the Ontario Heritage Act.

In practice, the policy means that in a case where a heritage property is unsafe or at risk of collapse, due to emergencies like fire or flood, city staff will get advice from a structural engineer with heritage experience before taking action. 

It also establishes that city staff will consider both public safety and heritage concerns before making any final decisions about tearing down a property.

"[This will] help ensure that the city's response in certain emergency situations affecting built heritage resources will be managed in a prudent and responsible way," wrote staff in a report to council. 

In 2015, the historic Mayfair Hotel and Hymmen Hardware buildings, at the intersection of Young and King streets, were torn down after they were discovered to have significant structural issues. 

At the time, a group of citizens expressed concern that not enough was done to preserve and restore the buildings, which were damaged after a water line break flooded the basement of the Mayfair Hotel on April 11, 2015. 

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