While attending the November 14th Hertitage Advisory Comittee meeting I was pleased to see one item on the agenda in regards to the delegation I made at the previous meeting and that was No. HAC11-018 : Proposed Interpretive Plaque(s) Guidelines and Protocol
In this draft document to go before council are now inclusions for a $5,000 security deposit per plaque, as well as a clause that plaques be installed within 3 months of development completion.
Both of these help to resolve the major loopholes I pointed out in my delegation, and in my previous post here: http://christopherwatts.posterous.com/heritage-plaques-saving-places-or-saving-face
I'm satisfied with the duration, the amount for the deposit seems a little low in my mind, I'd like to see it closer to $10,000, but what really stood out was there were conditions included to do with placement or location of the plaque.
Given the example that I cited in my delegation was the Aurora Toyota delaership, and that they recently hung the Hartman House interpretive plaque (after 7 years of talk, and 3 years of opperation!) I pointed out to the comittee that they should consider Aurora Toyota as an example in this regard.
When Aurora Toyota finaly errected the plaque they decided to do so in a very curious place: just inside the entrance of their service center bay.
One has to either pass through one of the two garage doors or a pedestrian entrance and almost stop immediately to see it.
Given its close proximity to the entrance doors and in a high trafic area, approaching customers are not encouraged to stand and read it is a causway to move them towards the inner doors and towards the service bay reception.
It is suspended high, well beyond a comfortable reading height and is adjacent to safety equipment which remove focus away from the plaque.
If anyone believes that this interior location for the plaque benefits from a positive side-effect of being in some sort of shelter, I shake my head. It's a hefty bronze plaque meant to be hung outside, it does not need shelter.
I suppose one could argue that Aurora Toyota fulfilled their end of the bargain, but from my standpoint only to their benefit, not one that "recognizes significant lost heritage buildings", as are the very purpose of the plaques themselves.
So what did this new policy do to ensure this would not be repeated?
I combed over pages 2-5 in the report and their was no mention of direction as to location, so I raisd the issue.
The Heritage Planning manager ensured me it was in the document.
It was not, I asked her to point outs specifically where it was.
Not a member of HAC, and there for a different delegation it wasn't my place to debate. I dropped the issue.
Luckily HAC member and former Clr. Bob McRoberts also reviewed the document and raised the same issue, at such point the Heriatge Planing manager reviewed the document and agreed that there was no wording pertaining to location.
A discussion ensued, at the end a lot of bantering was done but the term that seemed to be repeated was "Publicly Accessible".
Are the service bays of Aurora Toyota open before or after business hours?
I don't think so, therefore there is no argument that the plaque is currently publicly accessible.
I look forward to seeing how Planning&Dev, along with Legal services staff chose their wording for this stipulation.
After all there's no point in errecting a plaque if no one is going to see it, but that is exactly what has happened with the Interpretive Plaque for the Hartman House. All the while an entire park that sits adjacent to the Toyota lot bears the Timber family name, and the history is visible on a prominent rock that sits at the entrance to the park.
Perhaps if the HAC isn't going to do anything more about this issue the least they could do is include Aurora Toyota on their upcoming and future "Door's Open" tour.
Otherwise to learn more about the Hartman House you'll have to book an oil-change with Toyota first.