For the past 6 years I’ve witnessed the Aurora’s Heritage Advisory Committee prove itself to be one of town’s finest facades.
I have attended countless meetings and delegated at least a half dozen times after witnessing several examples of them saying one thing but doing another.
Here’s a quick recap.
They claimed to operate an Architectural Salvage program, but upon closer inspection didn’t. For almost a decade no salvage was acquired or repurposed. After my continued requests they did an inventory, what they found was alarming.
At some point, they managed to designate two houses under the same name – because, I was told there is no strict rule not to.
The town also had difficulties maintaining an updated list of the town’s Register of Properties of Cultural Heritage Value and even more difficulty maintaining the Heritage section on the Town’s website which was entirely struck and has yet to be replaced, because, well fuck all that work.
Committee members demonstrate a lack of understanding the committee’s purpose, clearly laid out in its terms of reference.
And year after year ( 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 ) they reluctantly participate in Doors Open by consistently adding the same buildings, ones that are already open. Every year, no matter what the numbers show they claim the event to be a success.
A lot of what is cited above isn’t out in plain view and can easily missed, unlike what has unfolded on Wellington Street with the failed partial demolition of the Doan Housethe failed partial demolition of the Doan House.
If you drive around the back what’s left looks like something out of French photographer Zacharie Gaudrillot-Roy’s series titled “façades” French photographer Zacharie Gaudrillot-Roy’s series titled “façades” French photographer Zacharie Gaudrillot-Roy’s series titled “façades”
This Auroran piece quotes Clr. Gaertner, who sits on the Heritage Advisory Committee:
“I just don’t know how that was left to happen.”
I guess it wasn’t evident in the report before the HAC in September of 2015 that the committee passed. Here is an extract showing page 22 of that report referencing 3 previous reports:
Committee and Council approved a partial demolition of a heritage protected building believing that the remaining facade will be preserved.
Demolition compromises facade. Owner says “oops my bad” and now only has to pay a $30,000 nuisance fee. But hey because they save some of the bricks we can all call this supporting an exceptional quality of life.
Members of council, particularly the ones sitting on the HAC like Gaertner have no reason to act bewildered when this happens.
If, as Clr. Thompson has pointed out “we don’t have a policy or any guidelines to steer the decision-making with regards to this.” then why, as both a committee and council are steps not being made to include conditions when approving any demolition, partial or full.
Without these tools the whole act of having a committee to advise council on matters of heritage is clearly nothing more than a facade.