Heritage committee requests...
Heritage committee requests 240% increase for 2013 budget
MUSKOKA LAKES - There have been questions posed in Muskoka Lakes by councillors and members of the public about the increasing expenditures of the heritage committee.
MAYOR ALICE MURPHY.
At the time of a costly Conservation Review Board for several Bala properties, the committee has requested that Bala be considered for review as a heritage district.
The heritage committee for Muskoka Lakes passed a resolution requesting the township to “commence a study to establish a Heritage District in the centre of Bala under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act,” according to the committee’s Jan. 20 minutes,
A heritage district is a geographically defined area within a municipality that is noted for its distinct heritage character, often including natural landscape and waterways.
In the same minutes, which came before committee of the whole on Feb. 5, the heritage committee requested an additional $29,200 to pursue a heritage district and to compensate a $9,000 shortfall on the estimation of how much the Conservation Review Board (CRB) hearing relating to three proposed heritage sites in Bala cost in January.
Coun. Phil Harding said he believes in preserving heritage, but he’s concerned about how much is being spent by the heritage committee.
The last heritage district meeting in and around Windermere didn’t go very well and he doesn’t know where things are with that, he said.
In 2012 the heritage committee had earmarked $25,000 for a district heritage study.
In June of last year the township held a public meeting in Windermere to address the possibility of a heritage district in the village. It was met with controversy. Another meeting was expected in September but was never followed through.
The money set aside for the study was instead used for an unforeseen Conservation Board Review hearing relating to proposed heritage sites around Bala Falls.
The township is currently waiting for recommendations from the Conservation Review Board following a hearing in January relating to three potential heritage sites in Bala: the township dock on Lake Muskoka, the Shield Parking Lot, and the portage landing on Moon River.
Muskoka Lakes Mayor Alice Murphy said the heritage committee, of which she is vice chair, would like to go forward with the work the committee and the Conservation Review Board have done under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act.
“We’d like to take that to initiate a study and see whether or not that could be protected under Part V (a heritage district) of the act. This would then be very helpful to the heritage committee as they go back to Windermere and they then have the process of doing both a part IV designation and a Part V designation,” Murphy said.
The question of what was happening with the Bala Cenotaph, which was dropped from the CRB hearing, also arose during the committee of the whole meeting.
Don Furniss asked if the township will buy the cenotaph so it owns the land for a designation.
Murphy suggested an easement.
A municipality cannot give heritage designation to a property on Crown land, but there was some discussion about whether or not they can designate the cenotaph which sits on CP land.
“If we were to initiate the process of designating the CP land, they are not a crown corporation and they are not part of the exclusion, we would do so and they would then have the opportunity to object,” Murphy said.
During the meeting the budget also became a concern as the heritage committee initially requested $31,200 to pay for heritage designations, advertising, public meetings, the Conservation Review Board hearing and other heritage related costs. That doubled to $60,200.
“I’m not sure where the numbers are coming from and why they’re changing so drastically, and they are changing drastically, in under three months,” said Coun. Phil Harding.
The Heritage Committee said the numbers were to cover the cost of the Conservation Review Board hearing which took place in January, resulting in a total of $32,129. The heritage minutes revealed it is also to cover pursuing a heritage district and “certain additional expenditures relating to advertising and other designations and other heritage related costs.”
The increase is particularly significant compared to the last two years: in 2011 the heritage committee spent $1,000, the 2012 heritage committee budget was $25,000, with an estimated expenditure of $50,528, much of it due to the CRB hearing.
The heritage budget also became a concern for township residents during a public budget meeting on Feb. 4.
Andree Baillargeon, a member of the budget review committee, spoke to council at the meeting about her concerns. She had been allocated five minutes to speak but seven and a half minutes into her delegation she began expressing her concern about the amount of taxpayer money the township is allocating for the heritage committee. Mayor Murphy cut her off.
What Baillargeon intended to say, according to her written presentation, was “Using heritage funds to make life difficult for the development of the Bala Falls Power Plant i.e. putting restrictions on lands, such as parking lots, dilapidated docks, designating view and vistas, etc… is a misappropriation of funds.”
Committee of the whole deferred any decisions on the budget until the next budget meeting on Feb. 19.