Saint Andrews – Members of the town’s Heritage Board held open houses at the Legion Hall Wednesday and Thursday, to provide information for residents on the proposed heritage bylaw.
Town council has approved the first two readings of the bylaw, and a public hearing will be held Monday, at the W.C. O’Neill Arena at 6 p.m., where residents, who are either for or against, can comment in person or in a written submission.
Thursday was the fifth information session which has been held, said board member Barbie Smith, who was also a member of the interim heritage planning committee.
She said heritage came out as a very important part of the town’s revised municipal plan, which was approved in 2010. The committee was formed in 2014, and began working on the bylaw. Smith said seven other communities in New Brunswick have a heritage bylaw, and they have looked at them all.
The primary focus of the bylaw is on properties that have a significant role in the town’s architectural heritage, based on recognition (being on the Canadian Register of Historic Places), age (built in or before 1920) or, if built later, special significance to the town, the region or Canada.
The draft bylaw includes 296 of the more than 340 early heritage properties that have been identified in the town. If approved, it will only take effect if a property owner decides to make changes on the sides visible to the public.
“Every time we get information back from the open houses we listen to the people, and we have tweaked and moulded the bylaw to include a lot of the things people have asked about.
“From our original, to the one that is going through, there has been some changes over time to reflect the wishes of the people that have come in, and talked to us.
“In some ways this bylaw is unique. It does not want people to put their houses back to the way they used to be. It is really looking at maintaining what we have now.”
The bylaw is designed to be triggered by the town’s building permit process. When a property owner applies for a building permit, under some circumstances, they would apply for a heritage permit at the same time.
Property owners expressing an interest in a heritage permit will gain access to technical advice, and potential financial assistance, that can benefit the town’s heritage identity, and their property’s long term heritage value.
A review was made of all town building permits issued between January 2014, and November 2016, to see how and how often a heritage bylaw might have applied.
A total of 346 building permits were issued in this three year period, and just 43 (12 per cent) might have needed a heritage permit. Nearly all would have involved a quick review, possible assistance with heritage-appropriate design, information on available financial assistance, and a permit issued in an estimated one day to two weeks.
While the Heritage Board was hosting its information session inside the hall, resident Dave Doncaster, who lives in a heritage home at 335 Montague Street, but is opposed to the adoption of the bylaw, set up a table in the parking lot, and was sharing his views with anyone who stopped by to talk to him.