The City of Ottawa will create a heritage matters task force that will monitor heritage properties on a regular basis to help encourage the proper maintenance and protection of Ottawa’s heritage buildings.
“While it is the obligation of the owners to maintain heritage properties and to adhere to the City’s By-Laws and provincial laws, this task force will help the City become more effective in enforcing those standards,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “This action will aim at preventing future instances of demolition by neglect, like we’ve seen at Somerset House. It will ensure that future generations continue to enjoy our rich architectural heritage.”
The new task force has been announced partly in response to the partial demolition of Somerset House (352 Somerset St. West). Due to years of neglect, several walls and the foundation of this heritage-designated property have deteriorated to the point that they now pose a safety concern. City Council approved a proposal on Wednesday, July 13 to demolish the sections of the building that pose a risk.
The mandate of the task force will be to:
- Review existing legislative tools that could be used to exercise the City’s authority to ensure safety and conservation of heritage buildings.
- Develop a strategy with recommended actions to closely monitor the condition of heritage buildings.
Educate stakeholders on the value placed on maintaining heritage buildings in Ottawa.
- Engage representatives from the development industry and community stakeholders in the City’s vision for heritage preservation.
- Work with the Province of Ontario to explore the development of regulations that will give the City more control in cases where owners do not properly maintain their heritage properties.
The task force will meet for the first time in August and will include Mayor Watson, Coun. Jan Harder, chair of the city’s planning committee, and Coun. Tobi Nussbaum, chair of the city’s built heritage sub-committee. City staff, including the senior heritage planner, the Chief Building Official and the Chief By-law Officer, will also be asked to take part, along with legal representatives. Key stakeholders from the built heritage community will be consulted about their ideas on how to better protect our built heritage.