On Tuesday night, Oct. 4, 2022, Kingston City Council opted to defer a decision on changes to the City’s Heritage Committee, in order to allow members of Heritage Kingston additional time to review the proposed changes.
In May 2019, Council established the Heritage Kingston Review Working Group to evaluate the processes of the City’s Heritage Committee and make recommendations to improve its functionality. After several years of consultation, the working group had finally prepared a series of recommendations, and Council was set to vote on the report at Tuesday night’s meeting. However, a motion by Sydenham District Councillor Peter Stroud called on Council to defer the vote in order to allow Committee members additional time to review the changes.
According to Stroud, while the Working Group’s recommendations were presented to the Committee before the report came to Council, members of Heritage Kingston have yet not had sufficient time to prepare a proper response. “They were allowed to comment on the contents of the draft, but they weren’t allowed to make recommendations,” said Stroud.
“Because this did undergo serious consultation with members of the Heritage [Committee], but some of their recommendations didn’t make it into the final [report], I think they need to be discussed,” he added. “What I’d like to do is defer this back to Heritage Kingston. They have one more meeting this month at the end of October, after the election. It can come back to us in November and we can see what they’ve got.”
The report presented to Council outlined a number of potential changes to the City’s heritage processes, most notably the splitting up of the current Committee’s duties into two separate bodies. If passed, the Committee that is currently known as Heritage Kingston would be referred to as the Kingston Heritage Properties Committee. The Committee’s mandate would be to “address the broad array of issues, opportunities and projects related to the planning and property-based aspects of Kingston’s cultural heritage,” as noted in the report.
The Working Group’s recommendations also called for the introduction of a new three-stream approval process, which would separate heritage applications based on the scope of the project. Stream One would pertain to minor applications for heritage permits, such as “changes that have no significant impact on the property’s heritage attributes.” Under the first stream, minor heritage applications would fall under the purview of the City’s heritage planning staff; they would then provide recommendations to the Director of Heritage Services, who would approve or deny the request.
Meanwhile, more significant projects would be incorporated into the second stream, which pertains to “alterations that could significantly affect the heritage attributes of the designated heritage property.” Projects in Stream Two would be subject to informal review by a newly formed Heritage Roundtable before proceeding to the Heritage Properties Committee.
Lastly, applications that seek to “erect, demolish or remove any building or structure on the property” would be included in Stream Three and would be sent to City Council for consideration after the Heritage Properties Committee provided its recommendations.
A separate committee, known as the Kingston Heritage Programs Committee, would assume responsibility for matters related to the City’s cultural programming, including its museums, public artifacts, and City Hall. According to the Working Group’s recommendations, “the proposed changes will increase the level of community input and engagement on matters related to the operation of the City museums, community heritage programming and the management of the City of Kingston Civic Artifact Collection.”
The report also noted that a diversity of community engagement was seen as a top priority throughout the consultation process. Having two separate committees would give members of the community additional ways ot participate in important decision-making processes related to heritage in the City.
While Councillor Stroud wanted to give members of the Heritage Committee additional time to make recommendations on the Working Group’s report, he did share some positive thoughts regarding the proposed changes: “I think, on the whole, most of what’s in the recommendation is excellent. Splitting them up into two smaller committees is by far the best thing about this report.”
Stroud’s motion to defer was passed by a vote of 12-1, with Countryside District Councillor Gary Oosterhof opposed. The matter will now be returned to Heritage Kingston before it is presented to the next City Council in November.