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Old 11-30-2008, 10:51 AM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,559
Default Gord's Orillia Home
pic of house at link.
It's one of those oddities of life that the street name where Lightfoot grew up is the same as the person who would eventually be such an important part of Lightfoot's life as an adult..

(scroll down page and Lightfoot at 70 pic/link is there to birthday wishes..there's been more added since the 17th)

The home where Gordon Lightfoot grew up on Harvey Street is one of 22 being considered as a property of interest to be added to the municipal heritage registry but its current owner isn't happy.
Packet photo/Courtney Whalen

Heritage tag upsets owner
Property owners given no notice before being placed on list
Posted 1 day ago

When Paul Hill purchased his home on Harvey Street 10 years ago, he had no idea it was the childhood home of one of Orillia's favourite citizens.

"Two weeks after I bought it, someone phoned me and said this is the Lightfoot Home," said Hill.

Now, after a decade of renovating what, he said, was in desperate need of repair at the time of purchase, he's upset the home is one of 22 on a list of properties of heritage interest -- without his knowledge.

He found out about the list because a headline in The Packet & Times about the 22 properties caught his eye.

On Monday night, Orillia city council will be asked to ratify the list that would mark the properties of "interest" on the municipal register of cultural heritage properties. The move will mean that property owners would have to give 60 days' notice of any intention to demolish or remove a structure from the property. It is also the first step toward looking at full heritage designation.

"I don't need some bureaucracy telling me what I can do with my house after I've owned it for 10 years," he said. "I bought the house from Gord and his mom... where was the city then?"

He doesn't mind the people who take an interest in the house, who stop and take pictures, steal blades of grass and even occasionally look in the windows, but he doesn't want the restriction an eventual heritage designation would bring.

"There is a long-term worry about that," he said. "I don't want to be forced to maintain mediocrity for their purpose, unless they're going to pay for the maintenance of that mediocrity."

He said as his home ages, it needs more maintenance and renovation. One example, he said, is the home's front porch, which he plans to replace because its condition is deteriorating.

As a Mariposa Folk Festival volunteer, Hill said he recognizes the importance of Lightfoot both to Orillians and Canadians as a whole, but resents that he wasn't even consulted about the process.

"This is something I'd be more than happy to talk to people about, but no one has talked to me," he said. "We have 22 sites here and how many are aware of what's going on?"

At the Nov. 24 meeting, Mayor Ron Stevens asked if owners had been consulted. He was told the notification to owners would occur after council officially approved adding the list.

Friday afternoon, Stevens said he didn't have a problem with that as long as the properties were only being identified for consideration. Before full designation of a heritage building, owners must be part of the dialogue, he said.

"Not everyone who has a heritage home is going to want to have it declared (as) such," he said, noting that a number of restrictions can then apply to the property.

Qennefer Browne, who found out the Elizabeth Wynn Wood home she owns is also included in the list of properties of interest after an article appeared in The Packet & Times, said its inclusion isn't a concern for her. Browne is the late sculptor's daughter.

"I think it's a compliment to the history of the house," she said.

She said she looks on the heritage committee and its work "with affection" and has been on the other side of the heritage debate.

"I know how agonizing it is for community groups to see the heritage demolished," she said.

However, with more stringent restrictions attached to a full heritage designation, she said discussion would need to take place, noting she's never initiated the designation process herself, although she's been approached about it before.

Coun. Don Evans, who is council's representative on the municipal heritage committee, is in full support of adding the "properties of interest" to the municipal registry.

"I think it's certainly time to get down to cases and move forward on many of these addresses to acknowledge their attributes," he said.

He said heritage properties recognized provincially (as they are when fully designated) can be a tourist draw.

While he admits there may be some individuals who dislike the idea of having their property designated as heritage, he believes they would be in the minority.

The issue will be in front of council for approval Monday night.
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