Second meeting of homeowners and commercial people on properties that could be included in Heritage clusters - noisier than the first

By Pepper Parr

June 22, 2023



The second meeting with home owners in the proposed Heritage Culture Districts (HCD) the city appears to want to create was even worse than the first.

Shouting matches between real estate agents, bewildered home owners finding they were caught in the middle of a plan coming out of city hall that isn’t that clear.

The people involved in the two meetings have asked that they not be identified and we are going to respect that wish.

In order to create a HCD at least 25% of the locations deemed to have the criteria to be identified as heritage properties.  Several of those at the meeting questioned the way the city is interpreting that criteria.

A source told us that an estimated 16 to 18 people took part that includes “three or four married couples”.

“Only one person spoke up in favour of intensification, saying basically we need more people living downtown to bring the vibrancy & commerce back to the area. He was the only one to speak to that – personally agree with him but no one else seemed to.

“Two people spoke of how living in one of these nightmare older homes is privilege- I’ve run across them before the last time the city did this – they didn’t get much support – how having spent thousands on just maintaining the darned things is a privilege is beyond me.

“Another person had a good point – they were concerned that the city would single out certain properties while leaving others alone – he felt that it should be a heritage district where everyone is in the same boat or just don’t do it at all.”

Somewhere in this area the Heritage Planners hope to find enough homes that can be designated and identified as a Heritage District.

One real estate agent said “you can knock at least 30% off the value of your property if it’s singled out for designation – in general buyers don’t want anything to do with designated properties – the impact would be a bit  less if all the properties in the area were designated as in a Heritage district.”

“Somewhere in the mix the issue of grants/ tax rebates came up if you agree to designate your property – but as stated John O’Reilly overstated the amount of tax rebate – he probably doesn’t know – a real estate agent set him straight on that.”

The grant –  $15,000 elicited a lot of groans – that wouldn’t even cover the cost of replacing the roof on my home and mine isn’t that big. Some properties are pretty large

A person who lived on Locust Street made a very good point saying the “proposed area is so fragmented with parking lots, – with a house here or there she couldn’t see any way they could be cobbled into any kind of district – which to me just spells designate.  She was quite right, it’s a dog’s breakfast.

“There was a gentleman who asked where the information was for his property on Ontario St – he was frustrated because he felt the uncertainty was affecting his ability to sell. I think it’s currently a commercial or professional property but again, first names only & not everyone identified their property so…

Interesting though that the consultant said there were a lot more addresses in the study area – she didn’t have the complete list but said John O’Reilly should have it

“Makes me wonder if they are dribbling this out a bit at a time so that people can’t meet and organize. But on the other hand they seem in a big rush to get the final report before council so probably only John O’Reilly could clarify if there are other properties – none the wiser

“I mentioned the couple that wanted to build side by side properties, one for their family & one for them. They insist they had done everything required and were told they could demolish the existing property and erect the new structures – then the city pulled the rug out from under them and they are left with a useless property. I couldn’t understand how that could be right but I said that it sounded like the city reneged on the deal and the real estate agent agreed that perhaps they had reneged on the contract.

“The husband approached me after asking if I would be interested in a class action law suit but on what grounds? He didn’t specify.

“One real estate person there – she was spitting nails at John O’Reilly openly arguing with him in front of everyone. Again I don’t have all the information as she was sitting quite far away from me but I think the property concerned was on  Locust and the gist of it was she can’t sell it due to something the city will not sign off on – said she’d lost two buyers because of the city.

“All in all if anyone signs up to delegate at the public meeting that may very well descend into chaos – I do hope so

“Oh, and they made a big point of saying the meeting was being recorded every time things got a bit rowdy so I’m not sure if that will be available- this wasn’t a public meeting so not sure what that means.

There were concerns with just how much the heritage consultant hired by the city knew about the area.  At one point she asked a real estate agent which side of Lakeshore Road (which she called a Boulevard) was the Waterfront Hotel located on. We  reached out to the Heritage Planner for the name of the consultant.  We did not get an answer.

“I fully expect them to designate my property against my will. Can’t wait for the public meeting.”



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1 comment to Second meeting of homeowners and commercial people on properties that could be included in Heritage clusters – noisier than the first

  • Jim Thomson

    Regarding Locust Street. The consultant for the Downtown Burlington Heritage Study found “Within the neighbourhood, Locust Street between Elgin and Caroline Streets would not be considered a compelling or complete example of nineteenth-century residential subdivision and settlement. The alterations that have occurred along its streetscape diminish the ability of the streetscape to communicate its original streetscape character.”

    This is exactly what the consultant for the owners of 488 Locust presented at Council in June. Since it’s not part of a streetscape the property doesn’t meet two criteria. Yet Council went ahead and designated it anyway.