Ward 3 Councillor responds to anonymous comments on the Mt Nemo Heritage Conservation District study.

backgrounder 100By Staff

April 10, 2015


Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor responded very strongly to some information that had been circulated during the Easter weekend by unknown person(s) regarding the Mount Nemo Heritage Conservation Landscape District.

The ladies love him.  He charms them and he listens to them; never patronizes them.  That's why he gets smiles like this one from Georgina Black, the consultant who led the then new new city council through its Strategic Plan back in 2011.

Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor responds to an anonymous document he feels is both incorrect and misleading.


“I have received, but never before responded, to unsigned correspondence for obvious reasons. In this case, however, I will respond to the allegations (as will City staff) due to the importance of this topic to rural residents.

“The City is conducting the Mount Nemo Heritage Conservation District Study in accordance with Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act. The study scope includes a broad review of a variety of elements that contribute to the landscape character, including but not limited to, the natural environment.

The area covers basically all of the western half of the Escarpment.

The area covers basically all of the western half of the Escarpment.

“At this stage of the study staff and the consultants are reviewing the needs and justification for an Heritage Conservation District as well as alternative planning tools that may achieve similar conservation objectives through other means. The consultants final study report along with draft staff recommendations will be presented to rural residents before a decision is made by City Council on whether or how to proceed further. Timing is uncertain but there will be at least a month separation between the two meetings and neither of the meetings will be held in July or August.

The document that was circulated:
The Facts of a HERITAGE DESIGNATION for all Mount Nemo Residents:

What Can a Heritage Designation do?
Myth: It will not affect your property value.
Fact: It will lower your property value. The City recently sent out a letter to Mount Nemo residents offering a 25% rebate for the 2015 tax yea r to entice you to convert to heritage because of the financial losses suffered under a heritage status.

Myth: It will stop the quarry from expanding.
Fact: City-contracted heritage consultants confirmed it will NOT stop any federally or provincially mandated development such as a quarry expansion.

Myth:This is not a ‘real’ heritage designation. It only affects the natural environment.
Fact: This is a very real heritage designation that will restrict what you do with your house and you r property such as the colour, style, size, location, landscaping, etc. And it will also affect on-going maintenance and renovations. This was confirmed by the heritage consultants.

Ask yourself these questions:
• Would you have purchased your home with a heritage designation attached to it?
• City Councillors are offering a 25% rebate on your 2015 property taxes if you convert to heritage. Your home is going to be worth 25% less forever, why is the City not offering a 25% property tax rebate forever?

The seven members of City Council will be voting on this initiative soon and they do not live in this area -not even John Taylor. It is important that you voice your opinion NOW on this matter and send them an email or a letter. Please see below for contact information.

Proposed heritage area: From Dundas Street up to Britannia Road and from Milborough Line over to Walkers Line. And they are considering expanding these boundaries?

Taylor responds to each issue raised in the anonymous document:


This quarry is close to being shut down – they have taken out just about all the aggregate they can.   An application to expand the quarry was denied.  Many feel that there will never be another quarry on Mt. Nemo.  The question now is – what do we do with that big hole in the ground?


Heritage Property Tax Rebate Program
The City letter referred to was addressed to property owners on the Heritage Registry who do not qualify for a 25% property tax rebate because these individual properties are not designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. The rebates are allowed under Section 365.2 of the Municipal Act. The program is designed to assist designated heritage property owners with the conservation, protection and restoration of their properties and not to compensate for any perceived loss in property values. The current rebate rate of 25% of the City and Education portion of the property tax was 20% in 2014 and will rise to 40% by 2018 and continues as long as the property is designated and annual registration is done.

Please also note that the tax rebate program does not apply to heritage districts registered under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act as would be the case for any Mount Nemo Heritage Landscape District. There are no current plans to introduce the rebate program to heritage districts.

Mt Nemo Rural-summit-map-682x1024

Those people who live in rural Burlington are passionate about the quality of life they live – that’s why they chose a rural setting. They do not make any kind of change easy.

Property Values
Several studies completed in both Canada and the United States have indicated that the establishment of a Heritage Conservation District typically has either a neutral or slightly positive effect on property values. Niagara on the Lake and Downtown Perth are two examples of Heritage Conservation Districts that have been positively received and resulted in sensitive development.

Private Property Controls
A Heritage Landscape District includes a variety of elements that contribute to landscape character that includes but is not limited to landscape character. There are big differences in details captured for individual heritage properties designated under Part IV and Part V collections of properties captured with a heritage district. There are also big differences between Heritage Districts in urban areas such as a historic downtown versus rural areas focusing on cultural heritage landscapes.

If the City proceeds with the development of an HCD Plan, the focus for policy and guidelines would be on the effect of proposed development on the cultural heritage landscape as defined through the HCD Study process, focusing on elements such as vegetation, building setbacks, height and massing. The purpose of this study is not to explore the specific stylistic elements of individual buildings (i.e. colour, window patterns, etc.). An HCD designation can require a heritage permit for major exterior repairs or additions, alterations to the landscape and tree removals, but does not affect building interiors or general maintenance. What ultimately requires a heritage permit is determined through the HCD Study/Plan process.

Protection from Unwanted Development, Quarry Expansion & Provincial Highways
In the last ten years the City has invested significant financial and staff resources to twice prevent the Niagara to GTA Highway going through the rural escarpment area of Burlington as well as successfully defending the City’s position opposing an expansion of the Nelson Aggregate Quarry. A Heritage Conservation Landscape District under the Ontario Heritage Act, while not an absolute protection, adds specific additional policy protection to be considered within any application review or appeal process beyond the generalizations of City and Regional
Official Plans and Provincial Policy Statements.

This would be achieved by a Heritage Conservation Plan that contains policies and guidelines sympathetic to the defined character of the landscape.

In conclusion I feel that we must complete the study as planned and then make an informed decision on whether to proceed to a plan, take a different direction, or abandon the issue.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

3 comments to Ward 3 Councillor responds to anonymous comments on the Mt Nemo Heritage Conservation District study.

  • Jim Frizzle

    This is a very good and helpful clarification of this contentious issue. I fully support John Taylor’s refusal to respond earlier to anonymous communications. Someone apparently lacks the courage of their convictions!

  • Albert Faccenda

    The concept that declaring this area as a Heritage Conservation District will not hurt property values baffles me. Common sense tells you the more freedom and ways you have to use your property the more a property is worth. Let’s forget about Perth and Niagara on the Lake and use land in this area. The most expensive land in the Mount Nemo area is the area known as the Bluffs a 2 acre lot(With no House) sells for $1,000,000. How many of you folks that live in this area would like to sell your property for that much money. So why is your property not worth those ridiculous numbers? Your land looks the same. Well the answer is freedom of ownership. The Bluffs was the least regulated piece of land in this area. It was allowed to be developed because of a line drawn on a map it was deregulated or exempt or never regulated and controlled like the rest of Mount Nemo. Do you want your property further regulated? Because when you do, things like the Bluffs will never happen on your property.(some of you don’t care and that’s your right but I think most people do, as they start to wake up and realize what they would be losing) and other activities including renovations to your house. You would have to go hat in hand begging to do what you want on your own property. “An HCD can require a Heritage permit for Major (soon to be minor) exterior renovation or additions. Alterations and tree removal” as stated above. Sounds like Big Brother wants to tell you what your house should look like. And I can only imagine how much money and how long it will take to process these applications. Further proof that HCD can stop you from doing things on your property. ” An HCD under the Ontario Heritage Act adds specific additional policy protection to be considered within any application review or appeal process beyond those already in effect”. (Sounds like more control over your property).”Protection from unwanted development” Who decides what is unwanted? But what is important is why is there such an effort to sell to those that are not interested in buying? Looks to me that the HCD is on life support. It took a while but the majority have awaken and are now screaming a resounding No. Another issue that further puzzles me. We have here a picture of a quarry that appears to be ready to close. Where will all the aggregates required for all the construction of roads, houses, high rise apartments in Burlington come from? Other cities? Sounds like a lot of trucking, pollution, and disruption. Is having a viable quarry supplying Burlington not our responsibility? May I further suggest before the City undertakes these very expensive (Taxpayers money)Heritage and character studies that are popping up everywhere. That the residents be polled and not listen to a small minority who claim to represent the majority. You should only be fooled once.

    • New Age Carpetbagger

      Mr. Faccenda:

      You should begin your comments with the disclosure that you are a home builder and developer. This fact lends the weight of expertise to your remarks but also indicates a particular bias.