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Historic Newmarket needs a By Law now - before it is wrecked by developers

A draft By Law which would protect Newmarket’s historic downtown from developers has been sitting on a shelf at Mulock Drive for two years, gathering dust.

Meanwhile, a developer with designs on Main Street, the Forrest Group, is methodically putting together plans to redevelop the Clock Tower site and demolish irreplaceable historic commercial buildings in the heart of the old downtown.

Councillors know this, yet they are sitting on their hands, waiting for the application to be filed, rather than putting in place immediately a By Law that would safeguard some of the Town’s most historic buildings and preserve unique vistas and panoramas.

The Mayor has today been urged to act (see letter below).

The draft Heritage Impact Assessment prepared by Goldsmith Borgal and Co Ltd Architects for the Forrest Group concedes on page 15:

… the proposed development does not meet the Town’s policies and objectives related to heritage such as

  1. Maintaining the historic scale in the Historic downtown at two, two-and-one-half, or three stories.
  2. Protecting heritage by retaining and restoring existing buildings

The developer's heritage impact assessment says nothing about the obliteration of sight-lines and vistas which are celebrated in the Town’s Heritage District Conservation Plan 2011

This Saturday why not join a walk of historic Newmarket and see what is threatened?

Adrian Cammaert, a planning professional, will be leading a “Jane’s Walk” of historic Newmarket this Saturday, 4 May at 11am starting out at the foot of Main Street. All welcome.

The walk is in honour of Jane Jacobs, the urban thinker, writer and activist. Adrian explains:

 “Jane’s Walk” is a very large, international event whereby participating communities host walks with the intent of getting people out and actively experiencing the places in which the live and work.   

Hope to see you there.


30 April 2013

Dear Mr Mayor

Heritage Conservation District on Main Street South

I am writing to ask you to take immediate steps to bring forward a By Law to create a Heritage Conservation District on Main Street South.

The Council approved the Heritage Conservation District Plan for Lower Main Street South at its meeting on 30 May 2011 but the enabling By Law has never been implemented.

The matter is now urgent. As you know, developers are knocking at the door with plans to transform the Heritage District and, in the process, ruin precious sight-lines and vistas.

At the Committee of the Whole yesterday, you received the 5 March 2013 Minutes of the Heritage Newmarket Advisory Committee when a presentation was given to Committee members on the proposed Clock Tower redevelopment which would involve, amongst other things, the demolition of historic commercial buildings.

You also received the Minutes of the Main Street District Business Improvement Board of Management held on 19 March 2013. We are told Councillor Sponga “provided a descriptive chronicle of the property issues and former ownership” before informing members that the owner would be outlining the proposed redevelopment at a meeting on 3 April 2013.

You were present at that April meeting (along with Regional Councillor Taylor and Councillors Hempen, Sponga, Emanuel and Twinney) and you would have heard Chris Bobyk, on behalf of the Forrest Group, tell the audience that he hoped an application for the redevelopment of the Clock Tower site would be lodged with the Town in the next few months.

Now that we know what is in the developer’s mind, the Town should take immediate steps to protect the integrity of the historic conservation area and entrench in a By Law the existing Council policy which is set out in the 2011 Heritage District Conservation Plan.

If matters are allowed to drift and the developer, at some point in the future, goes to the OMB, the absence of a By Law could be of material importance.

I am copying this to Regional Councillor Taylor and all Town Councillors and to Athol Hart, the Chair of Heritage Newmarket Advisory Committee.

Yours sincerely

Gordon Prentice

 

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