As a leading voice for heritage preservation in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Historic Trust advocates for initiatives that protect and promote our historic buildings, landscapes, and communities.
Some of the Trust's recent advocacy efforts:
Anglican Cathedral Annex, St. John's
The Trust submitted comments to St. John's City Council in advance of the July 2019 public meeting regarding the proposed Annex to the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
The board expressed concern over the very brief notice period provided for the meeting, and acknowledged concerns that have already been raised regarding the proposal. Given the prominence of the building and site within the historic core of St. John’s, and its status as a locally- and provincially-designated building and National Historic Site of Canada since 1981, any proposal to alter the Cathedral should be approached with the utmost care, taking into account both the landmark building and larger site.
Discussion of any such proposal should involve neighbourhood stakeholders, heritage professionals, heritage advocates, historians, and architects not associated with the project proponents. The Trust urges Council to follow a transparent design review process that relies on expert knowledge and allows for adequate public consultation to ensure that any proposed addition to the Cathedral has been thoroughly reviewed in terms of potential historic, architectural, archaeological, and landscape impacts.
The Trust also addressed these concerns in an interview on CBC's St. John's Morning Show and initiated discussions regarding the proposal with the National Trust and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.
9 Buchanan Street, 426 and 430 Water Street, St. John's
The Trust submitted comments to St. John's City Council in advance of the July 2019 public meeting regarding the construction of hotel and concert venue at 9 Buchanan, 426 and 439 Water Street in downtown St. John's.
While also outlining concerns regarding the proposed design, the Trust expressed particular concern with the city's development process, which allowed for the demolition of the John Howard Society building (with a construction date of circa 1850, one of downtown’s oldest structures) and the preemptive sale of public lane and air rights to the developer. Neither of these substantial decisions, ones that significantly and irrevocably altered the fabric of St. John’s, was made with input from the public.
The Trust discussed its concerns regarding the proposal and process with CBC and in an interview on VOCM Open Line.
43-53 Rowan Street (Churchill Square), St. John's
The Trust submitted comments to St. John's City Council in advance of the July 2019 public meeting regarding the construction of a multi-story building at the former Dominion store site in at 43-53 Rowan Street in Churchill Square.
Following the public meeting, Trust directors met with the project proponents to discuss concerns with the design and share thoughts on how it might better respond to the heritage character of Churchill Square.
City of St. John's Draft Development Regulations / Heritage By-Law
In April 2019, the Trust submitted comments to St. John's City Council requesting immediate release of the City's new Heritage By-Law.
As the Draft Development Regulations no longer contain the Heritage Area Standards (currently found in the existing Development Regulations), the Trust called upon the City of St. John's to release the draft Heritage By-law. Members of the heritage preservation community, and the Historic Trust specifically, cannot evaluate the sufficiency of the draft Development Regulations without reviewing the Heritage By-Law.
City of St. John's Heritage Policy Working Group
Members of the Historic Trust Board of Directors served on the City of St. John's Heritage Policy Working Group, which met from May 2018 - May 2019 and worked to develop recommendations for St. John's City Council as to how the City can best promote heritage conservation and protect its heritage resources, both designated and undesignated. The Group's recommendations are forthcoming.
Bill C-323 proposed a 20% federal tax credit for the rehabilitation of commercial and owner-occupied residential buildings listed in the Canadian Register of Historic Places. To promote the bill and the benefits of investing in built heritage, the Trust created the "Heritage Makes Cents" social media campaign. Ultimately, only one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Members of Parliament (Scott Simms) voted in favour.
The bill would have created private investment in heritage buildings across our country by helping to offset the costs of restorations and renovations so as to better protect and support places that matter. Here in Newfoundland and Labrador, it could have changed the fate of Richmond Cottage, Waterford Manor, and Belvedere Orphanage.
The Historic Trust was a signatory on the Canadian Heritage Sector's response to Minister McKenna (December 2017) and will continue to work closely with Heritage NL and the National Trust to advocate for the passage of measures that provide critical financial incentives for investment in built heritage.
180,182, 184 Signal Hill Road, St. John's
In late 2017, the Trust submitted comments to St. John's City Council regarding a 6,780 square foot house proposed at 180, 182 and 184 Signal Hill Road in the Battery neighbourhood of St. John's. The Historic Trust expressed concern for the proposed house’s scale and impact on the heritage value of the Battery neighbourhood in a press release issued November 2017.
The Trust presented its concerns to the City's Built Heritage Experts Panel, attended a presentation made by the neighbouring home owner, and met with the project proponents.
While the Trust continues to have some reservations (in particular, the materials chosen for the project), the project proponents have agreed to restore 178 Signal Hill Road and have it designated municipally and provincially as a heritage structure. The heritage designation is significant because it will help protect the house from future demolition while increasing its value. The house at 178 Signal Hill Road is modest in size, however it is an important visual reminder of the Battery neighbourhood’s humble beginnings.
Bryn Mawr, St. John's
In 2016, the Trust led a number of efforts to advocate for the protection of Bryn Mawr, also known as Baird Cottage, at 154 New Cove Road. These included a "Save Our Heritage!" rally in front of the house, a petition with nearly 1000 signatures, and a letter writing and social media campaign supporting municipal designation of the property.
These efforts were ultimately successful, resulting in Bryn Mawr's municipal designation in May 2016. In the Trust's follow up comments to Council, the board expressed interest in working with the property owner, a developer, to discuss how the house and surrounding landscape might be repurposed through heritage-centric development or adaptive reuse.