Cobourg Heritage Edition 2012

Cobourg: Creating the will

Heritage initiatives mean ED opportunities in Northumberland

STEPHEN ASHTON Most people consider their local heritage committees as organizations that are only interested in saving buildings and the past. For the past two years, the individual members of the local heritage committees in Northumberland County have been meeting as the Northumberland Heritage Alliance to discuss ways to promote heritage on a countywide basis. In September 2011 the committees teamed up with Northumberland County to form a working group. This working group will assist Northumberland's ongoing efforts to develop marketready tourism initiatives that promote heritage within the county. Initial projects include the development of a countywide Doors Open tour beginning in 2013 as well as coordinating the individual walking tours of the individual municipalities. The county is focussed on developing heritage and cultural opportunities as a means to diversify our economic base. The statistics are staggering. One study in the United States found that more than 53% of all Americans who participated in a pleasure trip in 2004 and 2005 visited historical sites, museums, and art galleries. The profile of a cultural tourist is someone who seeks a total 'experience' that includes cultural landscapes, cityscapes and townscapes. They take frequent short trips and spend more money at their destination than other tourists spend. Being within an hour of the GTA, Northumberland County is perfectly positioned to develop its EILEEN ARGYRIS The numbers are in. And the verdict is that heritage buildings are good investments, both for individuals and for communities. Kayla Jones, B.E.S., is studying for a Master's Degree in planning; she works as a heritage planner at the Heritage Resources Centre of the University of Waterloo. This research centre, dealing with built and cultural heritage, works with municipalities, and conducts workshops for planners, the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committees. "The numbers do tell the story," says Jones. In a door-to-door survey of 32 different heritage conservation districts conducted across Ontario in 2008-09, 318 out of 511 were "very satisfied" with their investment; an additional 193 pronounced themselves "satisfied," meaning that, overall, 75% of respondents were happy owning their heritage properties. The centre has also studied property value and resale performance of 2,500 heritage properties. Of that number, only 431 had undergone two or more resales between 1980 and the present, and their prices were stable compared to other properties in their areas. Within the heritage districts, 190 sold above the average price for comparable properties nearby; 147 were about average and 94 sold below. "That indicates heritage properties are likely to perform at or above average," in resale situations, Jones says. "Strong numbers" show that heritage properties are resistant to real estate downturns. In fact, says Jones, studies have shown that people are happier in heritage districts where the building and Stephen Ashton

Heritage by the numbers

economy if it can attract a larger number of cultural tourists. One statistic that speaks volumes for development of the heritage sector in Northumberland is that historic site visits rank higher than festivals/fairs, sports events and cultural performances as attractors to the area. Northumberland's challenge is to leverage our iconic buildings that are major, distinct and stand alone in addition to grouping our smaller heritage attractions including buildings, trails and events to create an overall cultural experience that serves as a true destination enhancer for Northumberland. As Northumberland diversifies and develops its economy, your local heritage committee members will play an important part in these activities. They will continue in their efforts to save buildings and the past, but they will also be looking to the future at opportunities for development of our economy. (Statistics used in this article are included in a report by Northumberland destination development co-ordinator Todd Davis.) Stephen Ashton is planner with the Town of Cobourg. restoration guidelines are most strictly enforced. That may seem surprising at first, but if one considers that the purpose of guidelines is to protect a whole district, a whole streetscape, then it becomes obvious that attention to enforcement benefits the majority who try to conform, protecting them against property owners who may attempt to get around guidelines. Is appreciation of heritage architecture only accessible to the elite? Of course not, Jones says. It is not only mansions of yesteryear that are worthy of designation, but industrial buildings, workers' cottages, and now even wartime houses, built during World War II, are beginning to be designated as examples of a certain type of architecture and a emblematic of a certain period of Canadian history. Heritage is of measurable monetary value to the community, says Jones, pointing to nearby Port Hope, where heritage conservation has proven to work to the advantage of the downtown, in terms of increasing tourism and business. There is resistance to designation among some property owners because they fear future work they want to do on their properties will be delayed by the need for heritage permits. However, Jones says surveys prove heritage permits in most municipalities take no longer to issue than building permits and other necessary municipal requirements. Moreover, the advice given by Heritage Committees and LACACs can actually save property owners time and money in accessing professionals to do restoration work and pre-identifying suitable materials. In most cases, resistance to designation can be overcome with the provision of accurate information, she added. The Lovekins - Dan, Grace and two-year-old Quinn - live in this house located at 44 Havelock Street in Cobourg.

Restoration: The best of both worlds

EILEEN ARGYRIS "I'm a builder by trade," says Dan Lovekin. And when he saw the century heritage house at 44 Havelock St. he knew he could do great things for it, and it would serve him and his family well. "I just loved the house," he says. "I wanted to buy something I could put a little sweat equity into." Old houses hold a special charm for Lovekin. "Even if I was building new, I would build to replicate an old house style," he acknowledges. With this circa-1910 house, he says, he has the "best of both worlds." Quality construction, such as lath-and-plaster interior walls, is not found in today's age of drywall. He tried to retain as many of the old walls as possible, while reinsulating the ones on the outside. However, he did want more of an open concept than most old houses allowed for, so some interior walls bit the dust. In all his construction efforts, he said he was careful to respect the original house. Windows have been replaced, he says, but with care to replicate the original size and shape. When he bought the house, MALCOLM WARDMAN The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario was incorporated in 1933 to preserve buildings and places of natural beauty or interest across Ontario. It was initiated by a group of private citizens who set about preserving Barnum House in Grafton which is now owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust and the likeness of which has remained the ACO logo to this day. Today there are 25 branches across Ontario. The Cobourg branch of the ACO was formed in 1998 to counter pressure to demolish some of the oldest and most distinctive buildings in Cobourg. In 1999 it inherited the finances of a predecessor heritage organization, The Cobourg Architectural Preservation Foundation, which was formed in the 1970s when Victoria Hall was threatened with demolition. Our 125 members believe that heritage is more likely to be preserved if local citizens and property owners understand the importance of our architectural legacy which makes our community different, and how it is beneficial economically to the future of our town. We do not believe that all buildings should be preserved just because they are old, but only those with heritage values which add to the town's ambience. The ACO established a Cobourg Heritage Fund in 1999 to provide grants of $1,500 to assist owners in our Heritage Districts with the restoration and repair of her- Dan Lovekin has been careful to respect the original house as he restores it. he says, "the whole front end had been enclosed," hiding "a beautiful porch." Storm windows had been added and vinyl siding was "an eyesore." itage buildings. We also wish to encourage conversion of heritage buildings to modern, practical, economic uses, and the insertion of new structures into heritage areas, providing the architectural design is compatible with the existing buildings, to protect the property rights of adjacent owners. To assist the Town in assessing the compatibility of new buildings, the ACO has developed a 3D computer model of downtown Cobourg that allows new building designs to be superimposed over the existing infrastructure. This program was used to assess the Harbourfront Phase 3 condominium project and the reconstruction of Albert Street. If you wish to experience a virtual tour of Downtown Cobourg, just Google "Cobourg Albert Street cad program". The ACO is proactive and works closely with the Town of Cobourg Heritage Committee in providing both volunteers and financing for heritage pro- He was fortunate in that a family member owns an old house of similar style, so restoring the house to its original appearance was made easier by having that example jects. We recently contributed half of the $30,000 cost of installing heritage street signs in all of Cobourg's Heritage Districts and half of the $4,000 cost of the new Downtown Cobourg Heritage Walking Tour Guide. The ACO also worked with the Town recently to persuade Via Rail not to close our heritage designated railway station and to refurbish it. At the Town's request the ACO members have prepared a photographic inventory of every building in Cobourg of heritage interest. Our greatest partnership with the Town was securing and organizing the highly successful, sold-out, 2011 Ontario Heritage Conference held last June in Cobourg. Each year since 2004 this conference has been held at different heritage locations throughout Ontario. This year the location will be Kingston. In June we had 270 delegates from across Ontario attend our conference which was held in our 150-year-old Victoria Hall. Our keynote speaker was Terry O'Reilly, well known for his CBC Radio program The Age of Persuasion. The conference theme was Creating the Will, and delegates spent two days discussing different approaches to the promotion of heritage ideas, and the cultivation of a public climate that is willing to accept them. We certainly put Cobourg on the map as a heritage location, as a majority of participants said it was the best conference ever and were also impressed by Cobourg's many attractions, promising to return. It sometimes takes a TED AMSDEN PHOTO TED AMSDEN PHOTO 7 to follow. Now, the beautiful original porch has been replaced and the two-storey, 2,500-squarefoot Edwardian house looks Edwardian once more.

ACO strives to preserve buildings of heritage value

Malcolm Wardman stranger's eyes to see what we in Cobourg take for granted. Our conference included bus and walking tours that encouraged delegates to shop or lunch at our many downtown stores and restaurants, which besides filling B&Bs and hotels made the conference a valuable addition to the Cobourg economy. Thanks to our sponsors the conference was a financial success, resulting in a modest surplus which will be used to finance future heritage projects in Cobourg. We at the ACO believe that we have to involve young people in heritage preservation as they are our future and therefore ACO branches in Cobourg, Port Hope and Waterloo subsidized the registrations fees of 20 university student delegates. There was also a heritage building photographic competition with a section reserved for high school students and a heritage poster competition for public school students, with the best children's banners being hung on the streets around Victoria Hall. The ACO's other activities include an annual bus tour of heritage communities, lectures, summer barbecue and Christmas reception. Weekly e-mails and a quarterly newsletter keep our members up to date with Cobourg heritage matters. We invite anyone who is interested in preserving Cobourg's heritage to join us. You don't have to live in a heritage home (I live in a condo). The membership fee is only $35 per year. Call me, Malcolm Wardman, at 905-377-1930 or e-mail me at m.wardman@sympatico.ca .

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