Kingston City Council approves by-law amendments for new heritage committees

Kingston City Council at a meeting on Jan. 17, 2023. Screen captured image.

At a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, Kingston City Council voted to approve the necessary by-law amendments and updates to officially enact the new Kingston Heritage Properties and Kingston Heritage Programs Committees. 

On Dec. 6, 2022, Council officially approved the recommendations of the Heritage Kingston Review Working Group, which called for the Heritage Kingston Committee to be split up into two new stand-alone committees. According to a staff report presented to councillors ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, the working group’s recommendations “refined the mandate and procedures of the existing Heritage Kingston Committee to focus on matters related to the Ontario Heritage Act and established a separate committee to act as an advisory body on cultural heritage programming, museum operations and the management of the City of Kingston Civic Artifact Collection.”

While the changes were approved by Council in December, Tuesday’s vote amended City by-laws including the Committees By-Law and the Procedural By-Law for Heritage, to officially enact the two new committees. 

Under the new committees, the Heritage Properties Committee will address property-related issues, such as heritage permit applications. The committee will fall in line with changes made to the Ontario Heritage Act, with City Council also approving a new three-stream approvals process for permit applications. Stream One approvals are set to cover minor applications for heritage permits, such as insignificant changes that do not impact attributes of heritage properties. Under this first stream, minor heritage applications will fall under the sole purview of the City’s heritage planning staff; who will then provide recommendations to the Director of Heritage Services.

Meanwhile, Stream Two applications will include more significant approvals, such as projects with alterations that could “significantly affect” the heritage attributes of certain properties. These applications will 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” will be covered under Stream Three. Following review by the Heritage Properties Committee, these applications will be forwarded to City Council for final approval. 

While the Heritage Properties Committee will address issues related to designated heritage properties and buildings, the newly formed Heritage Programs Committee will be responsible for matters related to the City of Kingston’s cultural programming, such as museums, City Hall, and other heritage artifacts. 

The by-law amendments passed by unanimous approval from City Council during Tuesday’s meeting, with no debate from representatives. The two committees will officially come into effect on March 1, 2023. A staff report presented to Council noted that the Office of the City Clerk has already begun the recruitment process to find members of the public to join the new committees. 

Applications for both the Heritage Properties Committee and the Heritage Programs Committee are set to close on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023. The City’s Nominations Committee will review the applications in early February before putting forward its recommendations to City Council at a meeting on Feb. 21, 2023. The Heritage Properties Committee is set to hold its first official meeting on Mar. 15, 2023, while the Programs Committee will meet for the first time in April of 2023. 

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