Where do the Candidates stand on Heritage Issues?
CHI put together a few questions with backgrounders and fired them at the candidates for the October 18th Municipal Election. View the responses from Calgary’s Mayoral candidates and the candidates vying for the four Wards that include most of our heritage communities.
City Council will undergo a profound shift with a new Mayor and new Councillors in most of the wards. That means we must double up on our efforts to inform Council on the many benefits of heritage conservation and to promote responsible decision making through a heritage lens.
If you have a chance to speak to the candidates or attend a forum, please use these questions to ask them where they stand on heritage!
For more information about the state of heritage in Calgary, the benefits of heritage conservation for economic recovery, climate resiliency and urban livability, as well as public policy to protect heritage, please visit HeritageInspiresYYC.org
QUESTION 1: Do you believe the City is doing enough to help preserve Calgary’s remaining heritage?
- Distinct neighbourhoods and urban villages form an integral part of our City’s identity and connect us with the past. Engaging with historic places is associated with higher life satisfaction, increased happiness and lower anxiety.
- Fewer than 1% of residential heritage buildings are formally protected in Calgary.
- Planning policies that conserve heritage support a more sustainable city by helping to reduce landfill waste and emissions from new builds.
- Retaining mature trees and greenspace preserves historic character while supporting biodiversity, storm water management and carbon reduction.
- With proper planning tools compact, sustainable cities with increased density and a variety of housing types can be compatible with the retention of heritage character.
QUESTION 2: Will you support full funding for a new Council- approved policy that provides tools and financial incentives for heritage conservation?
- Financial incentives in the form of conservation grants and residential tax credits are proven to encourage designation of private property. Public investment recognizes the shared responsibility for conserving Calgary’s heritage and is “repaid” by the economic, environmental and social benefits afforded to all citizens.
- Financial incentives facilitate the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings to meet current needs (Ex. repurposing older buildings for cultural spaces, affordable housing, or incubator hubs) reduces land fill costs and creates local “green” jobs.
- There is a misconception that heritage designation lowers property values. However, a Vancouver Heritage Foundation study showed the value of designated heritage homes increased by a factor of 60% over non-heritage homes, thereby contributing positively to the property tax base.
QUESTION 3: Do you support the introduction of new policies to create heritage districts in Calgary?
Definition: Heritage districts are distinct character areas within communities (eg Old Strathcona in Edmonton) and are protected by bylaw. Together, the buildings, the parks, the streetscapes, the architecture, the materials, and the human and natural history represent a development era and collectively tell a story.
- Heritage districting is a planning tool to ensure that future development complements the distinct historic character of the neighbourhood or district.
- Research shows property values tend to rise in heritage districts because they offer stability and predictability. Owners are therefore more confident to buy and improve properties in the area.
- Heritage districts attract tourism and investment in the film industry. They support small business in the retail and hospitality sectors by offering unique customer experiences.
- Currently, Calgary does not have a policy structure to allow designation of a heritage district despite having clusters of historically significant and designated buildings, concentrated in about 10% of Calgary’s some 240 communities.
- Legal protection of heritage districts is increasing around the world. Most major cities in Canada (Montreal, Halifax, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver) encourage conservation through the use of heritage districting policy.