Kitchener lost many of its historic buildings back in the 70’s and 80’s. It was a period of growth and renewal, something had to be done to fight the flight to the suburbs. One of those somethings was the creation of downtown malls and that often meant taking out our historic buildings. But this blog post isn’t about that fiasco.
It’s about our future. Mistakes were made in the past. What’s done is done. Buildings got pulled down.
Two such buildings were on Margaret Avenue between Victoria and Queen. There is a large empty lot there now, well six empty lots actually. I didn’t live in Kitchener at the time, but other real estate agents, city planners and local residents still talk about the demolition of the historic mansions as a travesty of poor planning, cronyism and bad judgement.
Now after thirty years something is finally going to be built on the site. What’s planned is a multi-unit six floor building with 210 units. The local residents are against this plan. The site is an informal urban park and more importantly in the heart of an heritage neighborhood.
The Ontario government is sponsoring infill and intensification, not only in Waterloo Region but throughout the province. The laws at the provincial level are encouraging us to fill in the gaps, the empty lots, to pull down or refurbish the derelict buildings, to build up instead of out.
The municipal laws in most Ontario cities are lagging behind.
What this means to us in Waterloo and Kitchener is that if you want to duplex or add an in-law suite, so long as you apply and follow the rules properly, in many cases you will get the permit. In fact, in Kitchener, before applying for a variance and a building permit, the planning department will meet with you and let you know of its approval likelihood.
We can’t get in the way of progress but we certainly can help steer it in the right direction.