REGINA – After much debate, 13 Leopold Crescent, also known as the Watchler Residence #2, is coming off the city’s Heritage Holding List and the owner will eventually tear it down.
“I think at long last common sense prevailed,” Property Owner Dennis Dodds said after the vote.
“Obviously I’m disappointed. We’re taking into consideration the individual’s properties rights over the greater good of the community, and that’s not something Heritage Regina wants to happen,” Jackie Schmidt, Heritage Regina president, said.
Council voted in favour of removing the property from the Heritage Holding list, with Councillors Sean Fraser and John Findura voting against.
Several of the councillors were inside the house since this item came before council in the February 29th meeting, and didn’t believe the air quality was suitable.
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However, Schmidt calls into question their expertise on the matter, and said they’d lined up avenues to help the Dodds’ revitalize the home.
“Heritage Regina brought forward to the Dodds’ a developer, two pro-bono architects, and a legal counsel for them. At one point they ceased taking this building off the designation list,” Schmidt explained.
Dodds said removing trim with his boys led to him changing his mind. They all began feeling unwell after being inside the house.
“We had an inspection done and the results came back very negative. It seemed like there were a lot of issues with mold in the house and air quality in the house,” Dodds explained.
Dodds argued in council that making the house liveable would cost around $450,000 to $475,000.
Now, he and his family will design a new house for the property and eventually tear the existing structure down. Dodds said he doesn’t have an estimated cost on a new home, because designs haven’t been completed.
“I’d like to design something that fits in with the character of the Crescents. I’d like to design something that allows us to enjoy that neighbourhood fully, and respects our neighbours as well,” Schmidt explained.
Heritage Holding List Review
Despite the result, council agrees it’s important to preserve heritage buildings, but many questions were raised about the Heritage Holding list process.
“I believe your worship, our primary difficulty here is a difficulty of process,” Councillor Bob Hawkins said, as he brought forward an amendment to have administration review the process.
This amendment was adopted unanimously and includes looking for ways to improve the way buildings and added or removed from the list, improving the way the Heritage Advisory Committee recommends heritage designation, and examining ways the municipal heritage tax rebate incentive program can be strengthened.
City administration already planned on having this review ready by 2020, but Hawkins’ amendment wanted it finished by the second quarter of 2017.
The administration said this is too tight a timeline, but will work to expedite the review process.
Despite their opposing views on 13 Leopold Crescent, this review is something Dodds and Schmidt agree on.
“I do think the motion provided by Councillor Hawkins is a good next step, and it can’t come too soon,” Schmidt said.
“I can’t say my experience has been a good one. We had basically a year of sleepless nights and financial uncertainty, because of the lack of clarity in the process, and I’m glad that it will be addressed soon,” Dodds said.
As part of this review, the city will work to educate property owners of the 232 buildings on the Heritage Holding bylaw list.
“We need to update it and look at a process that’s more transparent and more understandable to the public, more understandable to how it’s used and how properties get on and off the holding bylaw,” Fougere said.
“So we do need to update that and educate the public on that.”