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Amherstburg looking for feedback on Heritage Conservation District study, 108 properties identified


The Town of Amherstburg is looking for public feedback on its Heritage Conservation District (HCD) study as officials explore ways to preserve its historic core.

The town said recent provincial legislative changes addressing affordable housing and intensification raise concerns about Amherstburg's character, believing without appropriate municipal policies, those changes could jeopardize cultural heritage and heritage properties.

“A lot of municipalities are feeling the pinch of Bill 23,” said Amherstburg’s Heritage Planner, Adam Coates. “Contextually, it's a big thing for Amherstburg. If Amherstburg’s identity is tied to its heritage, its culture and its sense of community, it's really important that it gets done and that it's done properly.”

Coates said there were 108 identified properties within the study area that includes the town’s core and a stretch along Dalhousie Street.

“Without the Heritage Conservation District, a lot of those properties are at risk of being lost,” Coates said. “It's really important that the Heritage Committee, the town, that when the HCD is done, there's some really objective things that are put into it so that everybody's on the same page about what the big picture is and what the future is for the town.”

He continued, “We see a lot of development of older buildings that people wanted to take that heritage aspect and lean into it and see the dividends that those pay in the end. And of course, that's what the town wants to see as well. So we've been very lucky that we've had a lot of interest in the town lately and we're hoping to continue to put some guardrails up so that we don't lose some of the very important heritage pieces as the as the town grows and develops.”

The River Bookshop in Amherstburg, Ont. is seen on April 15, 2024. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)Coun. Linden Crain told CTV News Windsor there is a high concentration of heritage properties in the downtown area and along Dalhousie Street that are important to protect, adding it’s also important to note that heritage designations don't stop development and that permit applications are free.

“It doesn’t stop development. It doesn't restrict what's going on in interior spaces inside the buildings. It really just provides a platform for people that own properties or properties that are of interest, to submit a heritage permit at no cost to the applicant and share what they're looking to do with the building to make sure that we protect our history,” he said.

When it comes to some people assuming the move will freeze development and force a heritage designation, Crain set record straight.

“It doesn't lower property values or anything like that. I would argue that it actually increases property values once we decide to designate an area as heritage to protect those buildings, so we want to make sure the public communication is quite clear,” he said.

“Bill 23, by January 2025, any properties that are not designated could be removed and actually demolished so we need to get this plan in place quickly,” he added. “We need to protect them.”

A consultant-led public open house took place Monday evening at the Libro Centre and residents can fill out a survey online to further provide input until May 14. Top Stories

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