Heritage Maintenance Bylaw has teeth but not fangs

By David F. Rooney

The controversial Heritage Maintenance and Enforcement Bylaw is bound to be a hot topic discussed at this weekend’s Heritage Values Workshop.

In its original incarnation the bylaw had real fangs in the form of draconian maximum penalties of $50,000 and two years imprisonment for certain kinds of offences.

The new — and as yet unapproved — proposed bylaw still has teeth that give it some bite, but nothing fatal. It recommends that:

“Every person who contravenes any provision of this bylaw or who suffers, permits or causes any act or thing to be done in contravention of any of the provisions of this bylaw, or who neglects to do or refrains from doing anything required to be done by any of the provisions of this bylaw, or fails to comply with an order, notice or direction given under this bylaw is guilty of an offence against this bylaw and is liable to a fine and penalty not exceeding $500. Each day a violation is permitted to exist shall constitute a separate offence.”

Registered heritage buildings must be maintained in good repair and, when parts of the exterior need to be replaced, the owner must use “materials that replicate the original materials in design and texture.”

They also must take measures to protect their heritage property from the elements and insect infestations. They “shall paint or stain the building as necessary and shall protect finish materials,” the proposed bylaw says.

The structural integrity of heritage properties must also be maintained.

Some may question why the City needs a bylaw with teeth.

“We need something beyond a statement that ‘you should do this and you shouldn’t do that,’” says Heritage Commission Chairman Mike Dragani. “That just doesn’t cut it.”

The bylaw was to be passed last year but objections to the original penalties and a few other features of the bylaw have forced a rewrite of the legislation. It is expected to come back to Council this year.

Please click here to read the full proposed bylaw.

Please click here to read about the Heritage Values Workshop.