With every war there are strategies and plans, and there are winners and losers.
The George Browning House, like The William Wells House, the Issac Petch Farm House (no, not the Petch shit shack) the Hartman House to name a few are all casualties in the war that rages on against Aurora's Heritage. Some of them casualties to friendly fire which makes their loss that much harder to deal with.
Yes the town has saved, and been rewarded time and time again for, saving the Church Street School (albeit at the cost of its museum) and Hillary House amongst others but the scene fro Tuesday night's council meeting was clearly one of a losing battle for one of Aurora's landmarks.
It's hard, no downright impossible to turn the tide when the Mayor of the town's attitude was summarized as "well, you can't save them all."
I never understood that was ever the approach.
Sounds more like a cop-out soundbite.
Of course heritage conservation isn't about saving them all, but don't you save the ones that your own Evaluation Group deems of "major significance and importance"?
Don't you save the ones that are recognized as being "a significant contributor to the character of Yonge Street"?
Don't you save the ones that are designated under the Onatrio Heritage Act?
Don't you save the ones that you are bound to under provincial policy?
And don't you save ones that owners have already purchased with the intent to restore and invested money on their upkeep?
When the mayor describes the property as a "money pit" it's clear that when I approached council through open forum a passion plea wasn't going to cut it. As unusual there was a complete absence of passion in that room.
Instead I decided to to point out exactly how the town was clearly contravening 3 of its own policies.
Unfortunately consistency rarely trumps short-sightedness, my points were almost swiftly dismissed by the majority at the table.
I have to say it felt very different getting the support from Clr. Ballard who tabled the item and echoed one of my points.
What unfolded was a sad display of frustration and consent to a wrecking ball as the answer, when clearly more work could have been done.
I will construct a post mortem post of my feelings on that meeting over the next week highlighting some rather disconcerting trends and attitudes that are not eroding but swiftly erasing from our town its history.
I draw no comfort in appeasing the town's collective conscience through, plaques or monuments built from a couple bricks to pay homage to a structure that ignorant people fail to save.
I believe it was brought into the discussion that one of George Browning's houses was demolished to make way for the library, and therefore because the library offers excellent service the loss of the house is inconsequential. That same argument could be made for the Church Street School, that it was restored but the loss of the museum was a small price to pay given that it now runs a Cultural Centre, or that the Hartman House had to be demolished because the community is better served by having a Toyota dealership.
I'm a Toyota owner and a library card holder, but I cannot agree that the way in which their current buildings were implemented better serves the town than the historic buildings that have ben erased from our street scape. Could they have reworked the existing structures into their design? You bet they could have.
A heritage house I will outline in a future post that is property of Matamy homes is being re situated into a new subdivision that will be going in on the NE corner of St. Johns Side Road and Baview. The effort here is much more in line with the attitude the town wants to project about its heritage.
It was also deeply disturbing to listen to our Mayor say that there "is no questioning our commitment to heritage " when referencing the recent awards the town has received.
As if to infer that the town has accomplished its goal, and not only can it rest on its laurels it can excuse the demolition of significant landmarks because, well we have a plaque to say it's okay.
So what will work?
Even if the HAC and council are content on demolishing properties that they designate only a couple years prior there are several venues to pursue to increase accountability and ensure compliance with the tools that already exists without pontificating about new ones.
I will be exploring all of them, and even though it would be easier to have their support, it is not necessary.
That being said there were a couple positive things to spring out from this meeting.
The first was a gesture from chair of the Heritage Advisory Committee to engage me further about my concerns.
Unexpected, considering she was a prime target of my presentation.
Clr. Humfreys may have proven not to be the bobble-head I once thought she was. That said, even she recognizes she has a lot to learn and we're one year in. I expect she could turn the tide and lead that committee to gets its head out of its ass, because if she doesn't there will be an incredible negative impact to our town that will be remembered well beyond the next election.
Something else that was unexpected came from Clr.Buck, who gave me a nod over on her blog:http://www.evelynmbuck.blogspot.com/2012/01/bric-brac.html
If there was one Clr. Tuesday night that I disagreed with the most it was Clr. Buck.
Her comments were infuriating. Each one of them made me cringe.
There was enough material to fill 4 pages of notes from that meeting, 2 of which pertained to Evelyn's points.
I'll get to it, when I get to it but in the meantime the Clr's blog post gave me reason to pause.
Politics is a strange beast, more so when the players don't behave as you would expect them to.
I don't claim to understand it.
I know what I know, which is myself.
Having two young daughters one gets to re discover philosophers on a regular basis.
They rarely get better than Dr. Seuss:
It's a much different attitude than can be afforded to a politician.
Which I'm not.
And one of the reasons I never plan to be.
Politicians start wars.
They rarely finish them.
That's job is up to you and me.
So here's some music to get us started.
In honor of the planned demolition of Giants Stadium, New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen wrote a tribute song called "Wrecking Ball" and debuted the song during his final concerts at Giants Stadium in September and October of 2009.