The beautiful and historic buildings in St. John’s are a unique and valuable asset. In addition to their intrinsic and cultural value, they attract tourists, workers, and investment to the City. Unfortunately, their value is provided to the whole City, while the whole cost of maintaining them falls on their owners. As a result, their owners often lack an economic incentive to preserve them, even though they are eminently worth preserving.
As a result, the City has to take a leading role in preserving and maintaining built heritage. That role requires both rules protecting buildings and incentives rewarding owners for preserving them.
The loss of the Quinnipiac and Richmond Cottage have led to positive changes. The list of protected buildings is slowly growing, and Council says it will work harder to hold developers to their deals. I will defend these hard-won victories and attempt to build on them.
Although the City needs to have an aesthetic vision for its heritage areas, that doesn’t have to mean an artificial stylistic monoculture. Adding heritage elements onto designs doesn’t always improve them. Our heritage areas need a more nuanced and forward-looking aesthetic vision.
For more of my thoughts, check out my article about built heritage in the Overcast.