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OPEN HOUSE - Preserving the Modern


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#1 Rob Randall

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 12:32 PM

OPEN HOUSE Wednesday, March 26, 4-8 p.m.

http://www.victoria....hrt_prsrv.shtml

Public Consultation

A public open house is planned for stakeholders and the public to learn more and to provide input on the City's proposal to expand its heritage registry to include examples of modern movement architecture. Staff will be on hand to discuss displays and answer questions, and comment forms will be provided.

Don Luxton, a renowned heritage consultant from Vancouver, will be present to share his research on the topic. In 1990, Vancouver became one of the first municipalities in North America to expand the scope of its heritage inventory to include notable examples of modern architecture.

What: OPEN HOUSE – Preserving the Modern
When: Wednesday, March 26, 2008, from 4 p.m. - 8 p.m.
With presentations at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Where: Victoria City Hall, Antechamber
(Corner of Douglas Street and Pandora Avenue)


Registration is not required. Coffee and tea will be provided.

Feedback from this consultation will inform development of a report that will be presented to Council at the end of April.

Eleven potential modern movement sites in Victoria have been identified and statements of significance outline their need for protection and preservation. There is concern that if these buildings go unprotected, milestones of architectural development in Victoria could be threatened by demolition or alternation.

These sites include:

* Bay Street Hydro Substation - 637 Bay Street
* City Brokerage Building - 1018 Blanshard Street
* B.C. Electric Company Building - 1515 Blanshard Street
* CNIB Building - 1609 Blanshard Street
* City Hall Annex - 1 Centennial Square
* Ballantyne's Florist Building - 912 Douglas Street
* Bental Building - 1060-80 Douglas Street
* Royal Bank Building - 1501 Douglas Street
* Main Post Office and Federal Building - 1230 Government Street
* Bank of Toronto Building - 630 Yates Street
* Odeon Theatre Building - 780 Yates Street


“I mean I just don’t understand the big Texas part, like maybe he’s from Texas? I want to know the back story.”


#2 Caramia

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 01:49 PM

See you there!

#3 aastra

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 01:50 PM

There is concern that if these buildings go unprotected, milestones of architectural development in Victoria could be threatened by demolition or alteration.

I'm more concerned that if the modern wing of city hall is protected, it will never be demolished or altered.

#4 G-Man

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 01:51 PM

Or for that matter the the centennial square parkade.

#5 Nparker

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 03:01 PM

I'm more concerned that if the modern wing of city hall is protected, it will never be demolished or altered.


Touché. This abomination is definitely NOT worth protecting. Tear down everything at Centennial Square built between 1960 and 2000. This aught to preserve all the truly worthy historical parts as well as the new CRD HQ. Everything else is ghastly, and not worthy of the term "modern" architecture.

#6 Caramia

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 04:26 PM

So, come on down and state your case!

#7 jklymak

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 05:33 PM

This is an interesting question. When should we step in an preserve a "style" of architecture for the sake of preserving that style? I would assume that most heritage buildings stand the test of time and get designated when their civic value exceeds their utilitarian value. I would argue that some of those buildings don't need protecting because they are doing fine. Do we need to accelerate the process along for some of the iffy ones?

#8 davek

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 09:24 PM

When a building receives heritage status, who bears the financial burden? Is it the property owner, the taxpayer, or both?

#9 Caramia

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 10:26 AM

Entering them onto the Heritage Registry doesn't actually preserve them, it just means they are being watched basically, and that they are considered part of the City's inventory of heritage buildings. If they were designated, it would cause a whole legion of grants, regulations and whatnot to come into play. But usually that requires the owner's consent. Registration just requires council to agree.

At the meeting last night we had a presentation that gave an architectural history of the modernist movement in Victoria and explained why each of these buildings was considered significant historically. I guess it isn't so much the style that they want to preserve, but rather one significant example of each style and time. If that makes sense.

#10 G-Man

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 10:48 AM

Too bad the City Hall Annex was on there...

and just a thought how come no large buildings.

Richard Blanshard / TD Building / View Towers / Robert Kerr Building / Old Ministry of Agriculture Building.

#11 aastra

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 11:48 AM

The Blanshard addition isn't there (for good reason) but the original B.C. Electric Company Building is there.

#12 aastra

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 11:52 AM

And the TD mini-tower is what they're calling the Bentall Building.

#13 FunkyMunky

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 04:00 PM

...and just a thought how come no large buildings?


In response to a question after his presentation, Luxton said he was interested in looking at some of the residential high-rise buildings (I assume he was referring to James Bay) and having them added to the registry because of their fine detailing.

In today's Times-Colonist, City: Buildings of recent vintage also deserve heritage designation

#14 davek

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 08:34 PM

Thanks for the reply, Caramia.

If they were designated, it would cause a whole legion of grants...


That means taxpayers bear some of the burden.

...regulations and whatnot...


Which means the owners bear some of the burden.

...But usually that requires the owner's consent...


Which is obtained with subsidies, I'll bet. That is more burden bearing by taxpayers.

Perhaps a particular style of architecture should be preserved only when there is a sufficient number of people who value it so much that they are willing to bear the costs themselves. By adopting that standard, it would no longer be necessary to use the democratic process to take money away from poor families for the greater good of preserving architecturally significant buildings.

#15 Caramia

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 04:12 PM

I think you are assuming a fair bit there davek - Heritage building owners are often people who value heritage :P When they get their building designated there is some prestige and pride that motivates them, at least that's the way I've seen it with every heritage building owner I know who has got designation.

As far as taxes go, we do have funds and trusts and grants established by heritage advocates and filled with moneys fund-raised for heritage preservation. We also have federal and provincial funding for heritage preservation, as well as the City's tax incentives... without these there would be no old town, no restored Chinatown, no St Ann's Academy, no Barkerville... in return we get the tourism dollars, along with an interesting and beautiful civic landscape. Plenty of benefit for the public there. It is a mixed bag.

Your tax argument is a red herring, you might as well say that no taxes should be spent on anything, and instead all public expenses should be voluntary. For instance, I might not support roads (I don't drive) or the military. I might not like police, or appreciate building code inspections. I might not care if people die of lung cancer, at least not enough to think to donate money. Imagine if all of us had to keep track of where every bit of public spending was needed, and decided on each dollar, and if we cared to put it there. What logistical nightmare and a big step backwards from civilization as we know it.

#16 davek

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 09:35 AM

I think you are assuming a fair bit there davek - Heritage building owners are often people who value heritage :P When they get their building designated there is some prestige and pride that motivates them, at least that's the way I've seen it with every heritage building owner I know who has got designation.


I have no doubt this is true. So long as those who bear the burden do so voluntarily, I have no objections. This is not a job for government.

... without these there would be no old town, no restored Chinatown, no St Ann's Academy, no Barkerville...


Now look who's assuming a fair bit. :)

Government has so thoroughly displaced civil society that few people are aware of the robust system of civil institutions that used to exist. In Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America he notes:

Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing companies, in which all take part, but associations of a thousand other kinds, religious, moral, serious, futile, general or restricted, enormous or dimunitive. The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found seminaries, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and schools....

...you might as well say that no taxes should be spent on anything, and instead all public expenses should be voluntary.


It does not follow that saying poor, working-class, and middle class people should not be forced to pay for subsidies to opera companies, heritage building owners, film festivals, ballet corps, and other such luxuries is to argue against all taxes. An argument against one subsidy is not an argument against all subsidies.

Imagine if all of us had to keep track of where every bit of public spending was needed, and decided on each dollar, and if we cared to put it there. What logistical nightmare and a big step backwards from civilization as we know it.


I'm sorry, Caramia, but you have this entirely backwards. Everyone of us already decides what arts, entertainments, and charities we wish to support. Everyone of us already tracks every bit of our spending and decides on each dollar No one needs government to take their money and decide for them what buildings should be saved, which people are truly in need of charity, or what art should be supported. We do these things better when we do them ourselves.

#17 Caramia

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 11:47 AM

Well Davek, I guess that's a political argument, and entirely a matter of opinion. If you want to change the entire political system I wish you luck. There are people at the other extreme who want us to have state controlled everything - so I imagine they will balance out the extreme economic liberal point of view with their extreme communist views, and the rest of us will be left in the middle.

#18 davek

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 02:05 PM

...If you want to change the entire political system I wish you luck...


Caramia, I think you have lost track of what we're talking about. I am not advocating a workers' uprising, or an anarchist revolution. What I want to do is point out that using the government to protect heritage buildings is:

A: Unnecessary, because history shows clearly that, in the absence of government intervention, heritage preservation advocates will form voluntary associations to do the job, and

B: Harmful, because it deprives poor, working class, and middle class people of resources they can better use elsewhere, if they so choose.

This is not a position that should be unpalatable to anyone on the left, right, or center. It is a reasonable suggestion, and worthy of consideration by anyone who cares about the well-being of their community.

#19 Caramia

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 07:51 PM

Perhaps I jumped ahead in my logic a bit too quickly, let me try to better explain my position.

We were discussing adding 11 buildings to the heritage registry, that led to a discussion about the next step, heritage designation, which you suggested involved mostly tax dollars, but I pointed out taxes was only one of the mechanisms for funding, and that much of the burden goes to owners and to fund raising.

This was followed by a conflict of viewpoints in which you seem to be suggesting that there is no public value in heritage preservation and therefore no public moneys at all should be allocated toward supporting it - while I see public value in heritage preservation and agree that some of my tax dollars should support it since I feel that preserving heritage benefits society as a whole and future generations.

Furthermore, I have pointed out that it was with a combination of public grants, fund raising and private money that the major heritage renovations that benefit Victoria and BC have been accomplished. You have faith that they would have been accomplished without that public funding. I disagree.

For example - one particular mechanism here in Victoria is a 10 year tax holiday for heritage renovations providing residential units. In order to find out if that mechanism has made a difference in enabling heritage restoration, you could look up interviews with Bob Cross, or Chris LeFevre, or other owners who have used it to make an otherwise uneconomical project possible, and see what they say about it. I can provide a direct quote from LeFevre saying that the tax incentives were what made the project possible if you wish.

From the political point of view, the idea that any one government program should be removed from government control is problematic because each person will have a different idea of which programs should be funded and which should be left to the private market. Thus for you it might be heritage programs that should be voluntary. For the next person it might be roads, daycare, or the army. How do you decide who gets to dictate? IMO we make those choices at the polls, then let the elected officials allocate that money according to the values we voted in.

Since decades of Victorians and Canadians have lobbied for heritage conservation, and voted for politicians who include preserving heritage in their campaign speeches (especially Victoria city councillors) it has come to pass that tax dollars are used as incentives to stimulate heritage preservation.

In your model, when the daughter of that lower middle class working family who chose not to donate to heritage restoration gets her first job as a waitress in an Old Town restaurant, and puts the tip in her pocket from that table full of tourists who came to see charming Victoria, does she not somehow now "owe" the families who did choose to contribute to the change? Or perhaps we could restrict those jobs only for people who paid into that tax? In the same way, if I or my family thought funding daycare was not something the government should do, as families should be solving that issue internally as they have for generations, and we chose not to pay into it, how could I then rightfully claim the services if my circumstances changed?

See? I haven't lost track. :)

#20 FunkyMunky

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 08:44 PM

Heritage building owners are often people who value heritage :P When they get their building designated there is some prestige and pride that motivates them, at least that's the way I've seen it with every heritage building owner I know who has got designation.


In this case, that is not true. The Heritage Planner from the city mentioned in his opening statement that of the eleven buildings under discussion, 10 of the owners did not want their buildings listed. Since the city owner one of the buildings, that's not a very good average. There was no explanation as to why the owners felt that way.

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