Proposed severance of 187 Queen Street would be detrimental for all heritage assets

The Niagara Foundation (TNF) opposes severances to estate lots, and to 187 Queen Street in particular.  In a presentation to the Niagara-on-the-Lake Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting on May 7, 2024, TNF Chair Lyle Hall said that allowing such the proposed severance of 187 Queen Street would set a detrimental precedent for all heritage assets in Old Town and be one of the more damaging heritage precedents set by any council in memory.  

If 187 Queen is allowed to be severed, even with having every possible heritage protection in place, how could any future severance of a protected heritage property be refused? Among concerns raised were:

  • In the case of 187 Queen, it was designated in 2002 under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, the most-restrictive heritage classification there is. The designation specifically calls out the land as well as the buildings on the property.
  • The Bray Estate Lot study completed in 2018 and received by Council in 2020 identified fewer than 30 estate lots worthy of maintaining and specifically identified 187 Queen as an estate lot of interest. Bray specifically noted the concern about infill, commenting about the pressure to sever lots for future construction and the lack of protections that were then available.
  • The Town’s adopted Official Plan from 2019 relies on findings in the Bray study to set up Section 7, specific to Cultural Heritage, that states that “The Town will use all tools available, to protect cultural heritage landscapes….” Arguably, the north-east streetscape on Queen from Gate to Simcoe is one of the most important, intact residential streetscapes in old Niagara …and an acknowledged important component of the National Heritage District.
  • The current initiative led by the Deputy Lord Mayor to consider expansion of the Heritage Conservation District in Old Town. Among the objectives of such a study, is the potential use of an Interim control by-law that could freeze severances, like the one being contemplated, until a new Heritage Conservation District boundary can be enacted. It’s not at all unrealistic to think the entire block bounded by Queen/Simcoe/Gate/Prideaux would be included within any expanded Heritage Conservation District.

Specifically, TNF asked Council to:

  1. Delay approval of any Estate Lot severance application until after the Heritage Conservation District expansion study is completed.
  2. Approve only those zoning By-law amendments that align with key planning documents, specifically:
    • a. Any Section IV designations
    • b. Bray Estate Lot study
    • c. Amended Official Plan, Section 7 “Cultural Heritage Landscapes”
  3. Provide direction that where staff recommends exceptions or exemptions to those planning documents, that explanations be provided in the staff report, so the public understands the context for the decision.
  4. Require planning staff to clarify the guidance being given to applicants with respect to heritage properties.

In short, we are simply asking for adherence to Council’s existing planning policies.

Below is a copy of the presentation provided to Council.


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