Hi ho, there (Wells Street) neighbour


In the agenda for Monday’s Heritage Advisory committee one item that caught my eye is a crackpot letter they received on June 18th.

You can read the letter, email and staff response as included in the agenda item here:

Item 2 – Memo re Town Park Heritage Designation Request.pdf
Download this file

The suggested purpose of the letter is to “remedy” what this unidentified group sees as a “situation”, that being Town Park is not a designated heritage property.  

I don’t see there being any “situation”, nor do I consider this is a “stewardship” initiative, more an unnecessary “labeling and branding” initiative, that should in no way be supported until the South East Old Aurora Heritage Conservation District process is complete.  

Designation under part 5 is likely upon completion of the Conservation District study and given the passion and urgency this letter is attempting to convey it certainly does nothing to suggest why a designation under part 4 of the Ontario Heritage is warranted.   

The letter reads more as a passion plea than a rational letter mentioning activities that take place at town park, several of which are of no heritage note.  The jazz+ festival, music in the park, Arctic Adventure, Council Corn Roast, Aurora Borealis lights and splash pad are all recent fixtures of town park.  They add to the community and cultural value of the space, but certainly cannot be construed to be heritage aspects.

The email that accompanied the letter is equally less than informative, but becomes more insulting than the letter when it goes on to say that the park’s history is not well documented or fully known.

It is extreemely sad that the authors don’t know, or have not bothered to investigate, the history of the park.  Especially considering they are placing such extreme importance on designating it on this basis.  

The author’s ignorance as to the process of designation is also on display for all to see.
How can anyone conceive of applying for a heritage designation if they haven’t compiled any research on the subject?

Designating Aurora’s town park will not develop an accurate history, that part needs to be done first.  It’s not like all of a sudden some magical button is pressed and town park’s history is all of a sudden revealed.  The park’s history has been 150 years in the making, there is extensive documentation and records.  

If this faceless group of neighbours was in the least bit passionate about the heritage aspect of town park, and feels it would be served by being designated under part 4 of the Ontario Heritage act they could have provided examples of how the park meets the criteria set out in the Ontario Regulation.

Of course this is way too much to expect from a faceless group like the “Wells Street Neighbours”.

Back in May this same group had sent a letter to the Heritage Advisory Committee stating their objection to discussions surrounding the re-use of buildings including the old library building.  I commented on it here:  http://christopherwatts.posterous.com/hot-or-not

The inconsistencies in the two letters from the same group, only one month apart calls into question their integrity.

In their letter from May they assert that discussions should “not be considered until the heritage study is complete”.  Yet in this latest letter, and email from June they advocate a separate initiative is necessary from the same study.


I expect when the members of the Heritage Advisory Committee look to respond to this item this group’s blatant hypocrisy is not lost on them. 

The letter and email do nothing to demonstrate such a need, instead they do a fantastic job of showcasing why a separate initiative is an unnecessary duplication of efforts and should be dismissed outright.

I also trust that the members of the Heritage Advisory Committee understand the importance of knowing who is approaching you before you even consider entertaining a discussion. 

The reason I am concerned, and drawing attention about authorship is that this letter appears on the letterhead from the Heritage East Aurora Taxpayers letter head yet strangely enough is signed by some non-existent group calling themselves “Wells Street Neighbours”.  

What is also peculiar is that the email that accompanied the letter was not sent from Heritage East Aurora Taxpayers.  The email is signed by this “Wells Street Neighbours” group and included is a disposable hotmail account adding further confusion as to who the author(s) are.

If “Wells Street Neighbours” is a group, it’s not as if they are well known, nor have they made any efforts to announce themselves to the rest of the town.

In fact they seem to prefer the peeping tom approach of lurking in the shadows.  The whole thing reminds me of the nosy neighbour character Wilson from the 90’s sitcom Home Improvement.  The recurring visual gag was that Wilson’s face isn’t shown in its entirety, most commonly obscured by the tall privacy fence that separates the neighbors’ yards. 

A classic Wilson and Time exchange sums up the absurdity of these “Wells Street Neighbours” and how they communicate:

Wilson: Tim, it is not easy to change one’s perception of things, but it can be very healthy. Some people might even say it’s a growth experience. 

Tim: Wilson, how far does this go? How do I really know you are who I think you are? 

Wilson: Well how do I know you are who I think you are? 

Tim: How do I know you’re the one who said that? 

Wilson: How do I know you heard what I said? 

Tim: How do I know you’re really here? 

Wilson: Who else would have the time to come out and listen to this silly conversation? 

Until whomever it is sending these letters steps out of their fenced yard and identifies themselves in a clear and appropriate manner it is inappropriate for the committee to provide feedback to such a group in any other way than extending an invitation to approach the committee through a delegation.  

Why they haven’t taken it upon themselves to engage the Heritage Advisory Committee, and the community at large is suspect, and not very neighbour like.

Perhaps they should consider remedying their own situation before poking their nose into our town’s business.

Watts on your mind?

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