By Bruce Bowden
The Walton Street Reconstruction Working Group met several times in May, and a letter was sent to the Municipality. The Working Group believes that the Walton Street Reconstruction project provides Port Hope with an opportunity to truly enrich our community by preserving and enhancing the extraordinary heritage streetscape that is unique to Port Hope and sets us apart from so many other southern Ontario towns.
Indeed, the two by-laws creating the Walton Street Heritage Conservation district, based largely on an extensive report prepared by the noted heritage architect Peter Stokes in 1995, stated that “Walton Street, and its accompanying side streets in the downtown core, remain the finest example of a formal Main Street in Southern Ontario.”
The Stokes report provides a detailed analysis of the differing zones of Walton St. and outlined an approach “fostering minimum interference concomitant with maximum conservation.” The Walton Street Reconstruction project came before Council at the beginning of July. Municipal staff recommended that the project be split at Pine Street so that work may begin in 2022 west of Pine Street but be delayed east of Pine Street to enable business owners to recover from the pandemic and to give everyone more time to review the streetscape design in relation to its adjoining areas.
Another issue of concern is the fact that the replacement engineering work proceeds west and uphill only to Church St, whereas this heritage corridor is an intact historical whole all the way to Toronto Rd. The appearance of those six blocks needs to be planned as an integrated unit. The Working Group hopes to participate in a meaningful dialogue with the Municipality concerning the project.