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Building the future

Toronto-based heritage architect Michael McClelland recently published a piece in Spacing called: Misuse of Heritage Conservation Districts can deaden both past and future

Here are a couple of snippets:

The City of Toronto believes it has found a silver bullet to control development pressure in the downtown core through the use of a tool known as a “heritage conservation district” (HCD).

The problem is that HCDs are meant to conserve intact and bone fide heritage areas, such as Wychwood Park, Rosedale, or Cabbagetown. They were never intended to control development downtown.

In preparing for a HCD designation, consultants trained in history examine an area’s context and determine what is of value historically. They do not generally study the growth potential of an area, its future, nor any economic considerations, nor the larger planning policy framework, or even an evaluation of the built form generated by other market forces. HCDs look at heritage.

The rigidity of the proposed new urban design controls introduced by the HCDs effectively prohibits innovative and thoughtful architecture in the downtown core.

My own view is that it should be a balance between preservation and progress. We should respect our past, but at the same time look towards the future. Don’t fear change. Michael argues that HCDs achieve neither of those things. It’s worth a read.

Speaking of the future, the CityAge conference is returning to Toronto on October 6 and 7. Their mission statement is about “building the future.” I was on one of their panels last year and it was an overall great event.

If you’d like to attend, use the code “CITYAGE” to save $100. And if you’re a young professional (under 35) and/or a startup, email Marc Andrew to get an even sweeter deal. Tell him you’re a reader of this blog.

Image: Photo by me taken at People’s Eatery on Spadina Avenue

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