Of the many issues facing the Town’s Municipal Heritage Committee (MHC), the Marotta group’s proposed development (and future subdivision) on the Rand Estate has generated some of the liveliest discussion. At this past week’s meeting (Tuesday, May 8th), the MHC showed frustration with the developer, as well as with Town planning staff, over Marotta’s delay in applying for heritage designation. The frustration appears to have spurred MHC to act. The MHC has accepted the input of SORE’s heritage experts, ERA, that it is a municipal responsibility to proactively protect important cultural heritage resources like the Rand Estate, quite independently of any development proposal involving such resources.
Following a delegation by SORE representative David Bell at Tuesday’s meeting, the MHC unanimously resolved that:
- Council direct staff to provide a notice of heritage designation of all four properties comprising the Rand Estate (144, 176 and 200 John as well as 588 Charlotte).
- It would not support the height of the proposed 6-storey) Marotta hotel/conference/wedding facility (the equivalent of seven stories, as the main floor has a 20-foot ceiling). This followed an eloquent speech by MHC member Doug Newman – who was chair of MHC for the 2011 Romance Inn proposal. Newman reminded the MHC that the Romance Inn was a carefully designed and heavily negotiated comprimise with a 3 storey height limit when viewed from John Street.
- Council immediately bring an experienced heritage planner onto Town staff, to assist with the Marotta proposal and the other important work of the MHC.
SORE believes, as does Council’s statutory advisory committee the MHC, that is it important for Council to act on these recommendations as soon as possible. The next Council meeting is Monday, May 14th. SORE has reached out to the Lord Mayor and Council urging them to adopt the MHC’s motions and immediately instruct staff to implement these important, reasonable, and frankly long overdue actions. We do not want a repeat of the March debacle, where Council without explanation deferred acting on an earlier set of MHC requests specific to the Marotta proposals.
SORE encourages residents to attend Monday’s Council meeting in order that our elected representatives continue to be made aware of the community’s overwhelming desire to ensure that Council and staff treat one of the Town’s most prominent and important heritage resources with all the care and attention it deserves.
If you attend Monday, please be respectful of Council, staff, delegations and other community members in attendance. Council meetings often have lengthy agendas and defined processes with which to deal with these items. SORE rejects unprofessional and impolite behaviour as a means to achieve our goal. We are confident Council understands how serious and important this issue is to us, and to you. We continue to urge Council to hold meetings where important Rand Estate matters are on the agenda at the Community Centre, which can better accomodate the many hundreds of residents who wish to see and hear Council and staff in action on this matter.