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Heritage Debate
  February 7, 2014  
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As the recent Heritage meeting made clear, the adoption of Heritage District legislation remains a hotly debated issue. Certainly members of the advisory committee are to be thanked for their efforts on behalf of Port Stanley and the way in which they altered the initial Heritage plan in an attempt to accommodate concerns raised at the previous meeting.

Unlike the Heritage Advisory Committee, I believe property owners have a right to do with their own property as they see fit ... within the bounds of zoning by-laws and regulations. The Heritage Advisory Committee thinks Ontario Heritage District legislation, which limits the ability of Municipal Council to grant variances to by-laws, is the best way to keep Council from yielding to pressure from property owners or developers to bend the rules on a case-by-case basis. (Council can be pressured to grant variances under threat by developers or others to go to the Ontario Municipal Board.) The Heritage Advisory Committee argues that the Heritage District Legislation is the best way to keep the likes of MacDonalds, strip plazas and high rise buildings from spoiling our village charm.

I suggest the Heritage Advisory Committee limit itself to recommending specific guidelines related mainly to the above mentioned threats. Certainly individual home owners should not be subject to additional regulation. Public education would be a more democratic way to encourage property owners to support broadly accepted community goals.

Guy Goodwin
Port Stanley, ON

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