Penalty-heavy Heritage Maintenance Bylaw referred back to staff

By David F. Rooney

Alarmed by public anger over its draconian penalties, Councillors acted swiftly to refer the new proposed Heritage Bylaw back to staff for “refinement.”

The proposed bylaw prescribed  fines and penalties of $ 2,000 a day for anyone who contravened the Heritage Maintenance Standards Bylaw, which is intended to govern the maintenance and appearance of the 140 properties in the downtown Heritage Conservation Area. Anyone caught vandalizing a heritage property could be fined $50,000 and imprisoned for up to two years.

“It should be the homeowner’s right to do as he pleases with his own home,” said John Skrypnyk.

Pat Wells, who is running for Council in Saturday’s election verbally spanked his opponents.

“This is heavy-handed in the extreme,” he said. “I think this Council is myopic.”

Another candidate, Jason Roe, said he was deeply concerned about the bylaw and said “it needs to be refined.”

About 25 people attended the public hearing held to discuss the proposed bylaw and with very few exceptions all were critical of the bylaw.

Architect Eileen Fletcher said she supports the bylaw as “one of the tools that help preserve heritage.”

During the Council meeting that followed on the heels of the public hearing Councillors were quick to refer the bylaw back to staff for refinement.

Click here to go directly to Council’s agenda and read the bylaw, OB Heritage Maintenance Standards Bylaw No. 2003.pdf and make up your own mind.