A Commemorative Hack

While we’re on the topic of the Armoury building there is another cost from the change of ownership that seems to have been overlooked.

While onsite during the 2015 Doors Open event I noticed several visitors inquiring if the building was still in use by the military. Although there were staff at the location for that event that could speak to this I wondered if this would be the impression someone would get if they approached the site when it was not in use and read the plaque out front:

This plaque was erected by the Ontario Heritage Trust back in 2007, a press release is available on their website here: http://www.heritagetrust.on.ca/News-and-Events/2007/Nov/Aurora-Armoury-commemorated-by-provincial-plaque.aspx

By purchasing the landmark last year the section on the plaque that reads: “The oldest-purpose-built armoury still used by the military in Ontario, the Aurora drill shed is home to elements of The Queen’s York Rangers (1st American Regiment) (RCAC)” has been nullified.

As this plaque is being referenced by multiple sites at face value including ontarioplaques.com ( http://ontarioplaques.com/Plaques/Plaque_York27.html ) and this Canadian military site (
http://canadianmilitary.page.tl/Plaques.htm ) the plaque no longer achieves its purpose. Nor does it serve to fulfil the Ontario Heritage Trust’s mandate of identifying, protecting, renewing and promoting Ontario’s rich and diverse built, cultural and natural heritage.”

This has obviously been noted by the OHT as they have amended the plaque information in their online guide to remove that exact section highlighted above:

Looking to submit a straight forward request to have the plaque earmarked for replacement and get a sense of when such would be scheduled I contacted the Trust only to learn from a rather unnecessarily long back and forth that the Trust does not have an annual budget for plaque replacements. Due to recent Trust policies and management decisions related to financial sustainability and funding requirements for plaque partnerships it is not prepared to provide financial support to replace this plaque or provide any timelines for when it might be replaced.

This didn’t seem to jive when one revisits a plaque application from 2006 when this plaque would have been approved: http://www.heritagetrust.on.ca/CMSImages/ae/aec57aad-37fd-4807-8be7-
f0e554cb60a0.pdf and read clause h) to see that Ownership of the plaque is explicitly stated as remaining with the trust:

Now compare that to the present application form here: http://www.heritagetrust.on.ca/CorporateSite/media/oht/PDFs/Application-Plaques-2014-ENG.pdf and you will notice no such clause

Trying to pin down ownership and ultimately the responsibility that comes with it I presented them with this discrepancy and their response was:

Since 2006 the Trust’s legal counsel has clarified the matter of plaque ownership. If the plaque is affixed to real property (buildings or land), and, barring any legal instrument registered on title to the contrary, a plaque would be defined as a fitment or an improvement and not a chattel or form of person property. Therefore the owner of the property to which a plaque is affixed would own the plaque. While the Trust may have claimed ownership of provincial plaques in the past, this claim had no basis in law and was unenforceable.

So at some point, when is not clear, the OHT relinquished ownership of their plaques to the owners of the properties on which they occupy.

The Town through purchasing the Armoury has assumed ownership of the plaque.

The three options for addressing any update to the Aurora Armoury provincial plaque as outlined to me by the OHT are as follows:

  1. Leave the plaque and wait to determine if the military starts using the Armoury again.
  2. Obtain $5,000 from the Town of Aurora (or a third party) to recast the plaque with an updated text.
  3. Obtain $1,000 from the Town of Aurora (or a third party) to produce a new metal panel (e.g., cast bronze/aluminum and 6” x 12”) to be affixed to the plaque pole that would provide clarification and updates on the recent history of the site (change in ownership + date of plaque).

Option number one is so laughable it is insulting that the OHT felt it suitable to include.

Option number 3 is equally laughable as it requires the reader to read the incorrect plaque first and then read this new smaller plaque citing a correction. Exactly who through up this as a viable option, and at a price tag of $1000?

Option # 2 is the only real option.

To recap, when it comes to identifying, protecting, renewing and promoting Aurora’s rich and diverse built, cultural and natural heritage both the Federal and Provincial government have passed the buck.

Ironically the last line of defence is the 2008 winner of the Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership.

The same Heritage Leadership that was unable to properly display a plaque on the site of the Hartman House: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/the-hartman-house-plaqued-or-placated/

The same Heritage Leadership that failed to operate its own Architectural Salvage Program:

The same Heritage Leadership that designated a heritage tree and then cut it down;

The same Heritage Leadership that designated two houses, on two seperate lots under one name: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/auroras-heritage-now-in-2d/

The same Heritage Leadership that displaced the Aurora Heritage Centre reducing Aurora’s Museum from a building to a single room: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/master-bait-switch/

The same Heritage Leadership that turns a blind eye to property owners that violate the town’s North East Heritage Conservation District:
https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/between-you-me-and-the-fence-post-2/ yet fully intended to roll out a South East Conservation District that the majority of residents and property owners didn’t want: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/heritage-one-sided-conversation-district/

The same Heritage Leadership that phones in the annual Doors Open event: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/doors-open-2014-off-its-hinges/

The same Heritage Leadership that has removed the repository of Heritage materials from the town’s website: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/nothing-to-see-here/

and the same Heritage Leadership that is demonstrated when it’s own advisory committee can’t be bothered to show for a meeting: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/got-quorum/

Watts on your mind?

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