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Annual General Meeting of the

Weston Heritage Conservation District

November 14, 2009

All photographs courtesy of Hillary Keirstead

Residents of Weston Village gathered on Saturday, November 14, 2009 for the Annual General Meeting of the Weston Heritage Conservation District. As in previous years the meeting was held at York West Seniors (Eagle Manor), 1901 Weston Road.

  

Our refreshment and raffle tables were popular, as was our display of posters, maps,
and historic documents relating to Weston and the WHCD.

Calling the meeting to order, WHCD President Cherri Hurst asked Ward 11 Councillor Frances Nunziata to address the assembly.

Councillor Nunziata

Councillor Nunziata, an ardent supporter of the Weston Heritage Conservation District, congratulated the WHCD on its productive year and offered words of encouragement.

Ward 11 Councillor Frances Nunziata

The Councillor briefly discussed some of the local heritage-related issues and events with which she was involved in 2009 and offered an update on the status of key real estate development projects currently underway or planned in Weston. Her message to residents was that Weston’s streetscapes and heritage properties will not be safe from inappropriate development until this area is designated as a heritage conservation district. She urged those living in the Phase 2 Study Area to get involved in this process and advised residents to move toward designation as quickly as possible.

Year in Review

Cherri returned to the podium to review the WHCD’s achievements in the twelve months since our last annual general meeting. At intervals, she called Board members forward to assist. Our list of accomplishments was extensive. Key among them:

  • With assistance from the Ontario Historical Society, the Weston Heritage Conservation District became a not-for-profit corporation under the laws of the Province of Ontario.
  • The WHCD now has liability and accident insurance to protect those who volunteer their time and effort in the service of the organization.

WHCD President Cherri Hurst presents the “Year in Review”

  • During the year, the Weston Heritage Conservation District entered into a formal arrangement with Heritage Toronto by which those who donate to the WHCD can now obtain a tax receipt.
  • Working in partnership with Heritage Toronto, the Weston Historical Society, and the family of stonemason James Gilbert Gove, the WHCD helped with the year-long effort to bring recognition to Mr. Gove and the beautiful Humber stone walls that he built throughout our Village. The effort culminated in the unveiling of a commemorative plaque in Mr. Gove’s honour in Weston’s Little Avenue Memorial Park. The WHCD was involved in fundraising and research and helped organize and co-host the unveiling ceremony on Saturday, October 17, 2009. Moreover, Cherri produced a wonderful article, "Stories in Stone", about the life and times of James Gove. In the process, we formed what we hope will be strong, lasting ties with the staff of Heritage Toronto and the Gove family.
  • Thousands of people visited our website, www.heritageweston.com, in 2009. Many corresponded with us by email via info@heritageweston.com. As a consequence, we were able to re-connect with former Westonites who now live in other provinces of Canada, the United States, and as far away as England.
  • Our website was nominated and short-listed for Heritage Toronto’s prestigious Kilbourn Award (media category), one of only two websites to make the final cut. While we did not win the award, the experience was highly encouraging for our website team. Onward and upward.

Website Administrator Phil Keirstead and Applications Specialist Steve Foster, both Directors of the WHCD, recap the high points in what was, without doubt, a banner year for www.heritageweston.com. While at the podium, Phil thanked Patricia Adele, our website Copy Editor, for her invaluable contribution to the team. Under Pat’s careful watch, our website content has taken on added lustre.

  • Many Weston residents attended WHCD field trips to Toronto Public Archives in 2009 to begin researching the history of their homes. Once trained, a few even volunteered to research blocks of Weston Village properties. Cherri noted, however, that our research project has been moving at a slower than hoped for pace because residents have not been stepping forward in sufficient numbers to help. She urged everyone to become more involved in this, the most fascinating and rewarding aspect of our work. It is a rare treat to be able to unlock the secrets of Weston’s past and to learn about those who inhabited the Village many years ago. Phil likened the process to “engaging in gossip – highly entertaining”.
  • WHCD Board members and volunteers organized or participated in a variety of very successful fund raising activities in 2009:
  • Our Halloween costume party;
  • The 22nd annual Queen’s Drive Garage Sale;
  • Our Toronto Marlies hockey ticket raffle (tickets donated by Ward 11 Councillor Frances Nunziata);
  • Our Toronto Maple Leafs ticket raffle (tickets donated by Jacqueline Storino – won by Mr. S. Foster of Weston);
  • The Johnny Bower book signing at Peter’s Barber Shop (half of the proceeds from book sales were generously donated to the WHCD);
  • Sales of 1878 Weston street maps;
  • The 2009 Neighbour’s Night Out (co-hosted with the Weston Community Coalition); and
  • The Canada Day games booth in Lion’s Park (co-hosted with Frontlines).

WHCD Treasurer Suri Weinberg-Linsky presents the
financial picture for 2009

  • Our photography committee completed its “Weston Village Architectural Features Photography Project” earlier this year, producing more than 1,200 beautifully detailed photographs of fancy and unusual stone and brickwork, wood casements, gingerbread trims, and stained glass windows. Some of these will find their way into future WHCD fundraising posters.
  • We participated in Weston’s first annual Jane’s Walk (May 2, 2009), the re-dedication of Little Avenue Memorial Park (June 6, 2009), and the Clean Train Coalition’s “Human Train” (September 26, 2009).
  • During the year the WHCD Board, most notably President Cherri Hurst and Treasurer Suri Weinberg-Linsky, attended numerous meetings between real estate developers and local residents in an effort to encourage sympathetic development within Weston Village.

Clearly, 2009 was a good year for the Weston Heritage Conservation District.

Business

The business portion of our meeting focused on two motions requiring votes by the membership. In each case, the motion passed by unanimous consent. The first involved a series of proposed amendments to the WHCD by-laws designed to make it easier for the Board to conduct its day-to-day business. The second concerned the election of Weston resident Domenic Martino to the position of Vice President of the Weston Heritage Conservation District. Domenic replaces outgoing VP Dan Harris.

During his tenure, Dan was a key member of the WHCD Executive. Always mindful of the “big picture”, he took the lead in some of our most important initiatives. While Dan will continue to support the WHCD, we will miss his presence on the Board. Thank you Dan, for everything you have done to advance the cause of the Weston Heritage Conservation District.

The WHCD’s revised by-laws are accessible by clicking here.

A listing of our current Board of Directors is available at this link.

With this, the regular business of the Annual General Meeting concluded and Cherri introduced our special guest speaker

Special Presentation

“HERITAGE CONSERVATION DISTRICT STUDY – 2009”

By

PROFESSOR ROBERT SHIPLEY
Chair, Heritage Resources Centre
UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO

Learn more about Professor Shipley at https://uwaterloo.ca/planning/people-profiles/robert-shipley.

Professor Shipley’s PowerPoint presentation, shown at our AGM, can be viewed at this link
(Adobe Reader needed. See below)

Dr. Shipley reveals the encouraging results of the recent, important study of
Ontario’s Heritage Conservation Districts

Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act, R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER O.18, authorizes Ontario municipalities to study and protect areas considered to be of special historic or heritage value by designating them as heritage conservation districts. The process involves extensive community consultation; indeed, residents are strongly encouraged to participate in drafting guidelines for the HCD in which they will reside. The hope is that heritage conservation districts will promote long-term stability, protect residents’ investments, and preserve and even enhance heritage neighbourhoods for the enjoyment of current and future generations.

In 2009, the University of Waterloo’s Heritage Resources Centre, in partnership with the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and eleven other organizations, set out to determine if Ontario’s heritage conservation districts are living up to their promise, and whether residents are happy with them.

The joint study targeted 32 of Ontario’s oldest established HCDs. Researchers looked at 2,500 properties, knocked on 1,733 doors, and evaluated responses from 632 residents. The results were compiled in twenty-six highly detailed reports, all of which can be viewed at http://uwaterloo.ca/heritage-resources-centre/news/heritage-conservation-districts-more-stories-success.

After discussing the basic philosophy behind heritage conservation districts and outlining the purpose of the 2009 HCD Study, Professor Shipley revealed its key findings:

  • 85% of the conservation districts studied were considered by residents to have met all or almost all of their goals. The balance met at least some of their goals.
  • Of the 632 residents who responded to the Study, 494 (79%) expressed satisfaction with their HCD. Only 6% reported that they were dissatisfied. The remainder were neutral; living in an HCD did not impact their property or affect their lifestyle.
  • 63% of residents equated living in an HCD with protection. Researchers determined that many people who moved into a heritage conservation district did so expressly because it was designated.
  • Where residents expressed dissatisfaction with their HCD, their quarrel appears to have been with the building permit process in their municipality, as it related to a planned renovation. Despite this concern, the Study revealed that in 20 of 22 HCDs for which data was available, the wait time for approval was less than three months, frequently less than two. Furthermore, most of the requested changes were approved.
  • The most effective heritage conservation districts are those in which the guidelines set by the community are closely adhered to and actively monitored. Surprisingly, many of the residents interviewed felt that the HCD guidelines for their community were not strict enough.
  • Dr. Shipley described real estate values in the HCDs studied as “buoyant” and sales prices as frequently above average.

In closing, Professor Shipley noted that there is overwhelming support for heritage conservation districts in Ontario and indicated that people are frequently willing to pay a premium in order to move into one.

His conclusion: “Heritage conservation districts work!”

If you would like to learn more about heritage conservation districts, Dr. Shipley recommends that you visit the website of the University of Waterloo’s Heritage Resources Centre at http://uwaterloo.ca/heritage-resources-centre/ , and download the Ontario Ministry of Culture’s Heritage Conservation District Toolkit at http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/heritage/heritage_toolkit.shtml .

The Weston Heritage Conservation District owes a debt of gratitude to Professor Shipley for taking time from his busy schedule to travel to Weston for this presentation. Thank you, Dr. Shipley, for joining us. Your participation greatly enhanced our Annual General Meeting.

With this, the 2009 AGM concluded.

We would like to thank everyone who attended the meeting.





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