ACO Port Hope asked 7 questions to Port Hope’s 22 Municipal Electoral Candidates. The questions were sent to all candidates and the responses are posted with permission. Below are the answers we received from four of the candidates running for councillor in Ward 2, listed in alphabetical order.
Q1: What is your vision for the Centre Pier area?
Chris J. Collins: We have the privilege of bordering a beautiful lake with a pier allowance. Let’s monopolize it as some other municipalities have done and use it as a focal point for business, tourism and recreation.
Vicki Mink: I would love to see some re-creation of it’s historical past. There is discussion about green park space since there are limitations to what structures can be built. Maybe there can be some green space but I would love to see some market space pavilions that bring back what would have been there if it was not demolished. I would also love to see some type of acknowledgement to our rural roots, specifically the arrival of British Home Children. The children arrived by sea and were sent by rail to our rural community as indentured workers. Our rural community was built on these children as many of their descendants remained in the community to this day. As a gesture of reconciliation, I think there is a great opportunity to acknowledge this important part of our local culture on the centre pier.
Betsey Price: I would, as in all representative matters, let myself be guided by the community. I have not heard anything back from residents of Ward 2 about a ‘vision’ for the Centre Pier area, other than their relief that Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is pursuing the clean-up in Port Hope. I am certainly open to hearing much more from Ward 2 residents about their vision for Centre Pier.
Darrell Toms: I don’t have a lot of information regarding the pier project. I would need to look at more research. I am pro green space/community space.
Q2: In any planned riverwalk enhancements, how might we reference the stories behind the central role that the Ganaraska River has played in the history of Port Hope?
Chris J. Collins: The stories and history of the community can be strategically placed in a self guided tour format that will guide and drive visitors. This strategic guiding will support visitation to shops, excursions and more. Aligned with informative stations, it makes it a win/win.
Vicki Mink: This is important. It can be done in a way that is relevant and successful, or a lot of effort and money could be put into a project that does not deliver on its objective. I have seen examples of both in villages and towns across the province. I honestly cannot answer this question. I think we need to look at examples that work in other communities and then apply some of those same concepts in a way that is unique to Port Hope. One example I can use is the village of Kinmount ON. It was never a place to stop prior to the mid 90s. My most recent trip this past summer was a pleasant and impressive surprise as they have made the river banks into a recreational space with emphasis on local history. I really think, the planners of this project need to take some field trips and see what others have done. Then decide what will be best for Port Hope.
Betsey Price: As is noted by the Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI), the Ganaraska River is one of the many rivers which end in Lake Ontario and were important to the culture of the local native Michi Saagiig people. Since the Ganaraska creates at Port Hope what is well recognized as a quiet port and fishing area sought out even today, it would be more than appropriate to evoke the story of the presence of the first “Salmon People”. Representatives of the Indigenous community should be to the best ones to provide ideas for how to reference that part of the historical story along a Ganaraska Riverwalk. Certainly identifying, by base signage, some of the specific varieties of pines and hardwood trees along the way, prized at the time, would also seem most appropriate. A map of all the many tributaries which feed the Ganaraska would also be interesting to see.Due to the fact that, until about 1860, there were so many mills along the River, a way of evoking what the relationship is between a river’s water flow as a source of power (to turn mill wheels) and a flour-grinding mill stone would probably be a good technological story to tell. Mill stones (grist or flour) are very evocative, but so too as representations of the actual mill gearing, structure, etc. Also, if there were up to 50 mills (saw and flour) operated along the river, it would be impressive to have a marker at each former site, as the frequency of such markers on one river walk would catch the attention!
Darrell Toms: I think we could reference the central role of the Ganaraska river by utilizing informative plaques that are done in a tasteful manner that represents our heritage community.
Q3: How would you ensure that the new Waterfront/Riverwalk landscape will be historically appropriate and carefully integrated with Port Hope’s commercial core?
Chris J. Collins: Bring in subject matter experts (SME) on the heritage and through consultation and collaboration with the SME and community including already established businesses and/or owners establish a strategic plan for the project.
Vicki Mink: Historically, the river was an important resource. Today, it has evolved into more of a recreational space. Our downtown still services our local community but it is also a tourist destination. We want Port Hope to be the preferred day trip destination for its historical value. I would depend on experts to make suggestions on the best way to blend recreation, commerce, tourism, accessibility and historical preservation. All must be considered. As a side note, I would love to see the back laneways made into pedestrian and commercial spaces. To me, they are a diamond in the rough.
Betsey Price: I will certainly be sensitive to the reading that Ward 1 councillors are getting from their respective residents in Ward 1 as to how the Waterfront/Riverwalk landscape can be integrated with Port Hope’s commercial core. I would assume that the Port Hope and District Chamber of Commerce might be able to weigh in on this on behalf of its members and be a solid source of information to councillors. Port Hope’s Historical Society and many of the municipality’s profession and amateur historians should be asked to engage in consultations led by the ACO Port Hope to help to ensure both the historical appropriateness as well as the historical accuracy of the plans for the new Waterfront/Riverwalk landscape.
Darrell Toms: Ultimately it would be a council decision which if elected I have one voice and that would be to follow the suggestions set by the heritage impact assessment. My stance is that I want my children to grow up and experience the same community I did. The commercial core should continue to embrace the heritage designation!
Q4: In the face of further new development, how might the historic and cultural ambience of Lakeshore Road best be sustained?
Chris J. Collins: Site plan control bylaws are an efficient method for our municipality to ensure developments are built and maintained as visioned, meeting certain standards, safety and ease of access, appearance and design.
Vicki Mink: I don’t believe there will be much more development past Baulch Rd, with the exception of the potentially eco-farm. The sidewalks have been completed in the older section and as many trees as possible were saved. The boulevards in the new section are wide and the tree canopy will continue along Lakeshore, which is good. The new proposed development on the north side, must be in likeness to what has already been built. High density is needed but I don’t think it should be along Lakeshore. As per high density, I would love to see attached homes that are similar to the ones on Barrett St or Dorset. However, to get unique historical designs requires strong staff and council to negotiate with the developers. It is not impossible but it takes focus and good negotiations.
Betsey Price: Indeed it will be a challenge to sustain the historical and prior cultural ambience along Lakeshore Road in the face of future development. There are of course already present the historical rural residences, which had been built along the lakeshore of Lake Ontario (within Ward 2 Port Hope). They should all be designated historical to safeguard their continued existence! It might even be advisable to designate an area/strip/stretch of Lakeshore Road as “historical”. The Municipality might choose to encourage the vitalization of said stretch of Road as a Historic Prioritized Area (like a Historic Downtown designation). It might wish to establish a consistent (design) vision for that area of Historic Lakeshore and encourage private revitalizations along it. Although these might well include improvements (if not increases) to the existing building stock and streetscape enhancements, all would be conceptualized within an overall set ambience, in line with historic and cultural values for the designated stretch of highway with the Municipality of Port Hope.
Darrell Toms: I haven’t done any research on this topic I would need to do so before I could give this question an honest answer.
Q5: How might we ensure that these structures [Additional Residential Units] will be in keeping with Port Hope’s historic and distinctive neighbourhoods?
Chris J. Collins: The ARU initiative is a provincial mandate to facilitate affordable housing. Albeit a provincial initiative, the municipality has the right to support the ambiance, and “feel” of a neighbourhood addition or secondary unit through zoning bylaws. Similar to the above answer, this can be guided.
Vicki Mink: It’s very hard to demand that a structure ancillary to the main house be of a certain architectural style. I’m not certain how that would be achieved while giving everyone a fair opportunity. I am open to hearing suggestions.
Betsey Price: Given arguments used in the last three historical building designations in Port Hope under the Ontario Heritage Act, it would seem that the ACO Port Hope might have all the tools it needs to:10 ARMOUR ST. “has physical and design value. It provides an example of a vernacular front gable house from the latter half of the 19th century in Port Hope, with classical revival influences.”18 PRINCESS ST. “has physical and design value as another example of a vernacular front gable house from the latter half of the 19th century in Port Hope, with classical revival influences.”46 DORSET ST. E. “has physical and design value as an example of arts-and-crafts-inspired architecture popular in the early 20th century, of which there are few examples in Port Hope.”The record of historical designation is clear in terms of architectural styles which represent the historic character and distinctiveness ofPort Hope. Could not a strong case be made for strict adherence to any one of a set number of styles (and not a post-modern hodgepodge of them in any one building) for new construction, the noted Additional Residential Units, for Port Hope neighbourhoods such that there is explicit recognition of the value of the historical streetscape of Port Hope?
Darrell Toms: I think we accomplish this through our planning department. Insuring the bylaw is worded and can be enforced to make sure any additional buildings are in keeping with the residential neighbourhood in which they are being built.
Q6: What strategies would you suggest to further encourage the conservation, restoration, and adaptive re-use of existing historic structures in Port Hope?
Chris J. Collins: Identify, protect and promote will support this initiative. It is not just buildings, it is culture. Using these buildings through adaptation, for business, recreational and residential will ensure longevity. Heritage easement agreements, by-laws, and Planning Act all support sustainability of our heritage.
Vicki Mink: To be very honest, I struggle with this one a little bit. To me, it is important to save the building, which means protecting the building envelope. If the building envelope is sealed, the structure is protected. I think it is very important that the facade and significant architectural features are protected and not altered whenever possible. Features such as cladding, parapets, sills and soffit should not be altered and they should be protected. Any addition to a historical building should have very careful consideration and approvals. I struggle with some of the smaller details that can be easily changed, such as some windows, doors, door handles etc. I see many buildings in downtown Port Hope continue to deteriorate because the owner either refuses or cannot afford to make improvements to a particular historical standard. As a result, windows rot and water and pests get into the walls and structure. It is disheartening to see. I think we need a funding strategy or another solution to stop further damage to these buildings. We have a lot of historical buildings that are candidates for adaptive re-use. There is also opportunity to save facades and build around them. Again, we need a strong staff and council to negotiate those opportunities with property owners and developers.
Betsey Price: To encourage conservation, I would emphasize that a “conserved” small town in Ontario can bring tourist dollars into the community, hand in hand with the revitalization of main streets and downtown. Port Hope knows about its ‘Best Preserved Small Town in Ontario’ moniker, but it never hurts to remind residents of the economic flow-through from that. Conservation create skilled trades and jobs; can the town not leverage that the town itself provides opportunities for ‘dying trades’ (stonework, antique brickwork, glazing, etc.) to be practiced (and remunerated!) on site. Conservation enhances the visual desirability and of times the liveability of neighbourhoods (or livelihoods). The attractiveness of historically conserved homes can increase property values and by extension for all, the municipal tax base.Both conservation and restoration usually imply a scarce resource, e.g., the world’s last remaining …, the world’s last operating … . The restoration of the ‘world’s last anything’ should put its location ‘on the map’ for all the benefits noted above. So publicity for the restoration feat is key. Further, community improvement plan should include support for retrofitting heritage building in the context of restoration with grants, if possible, to upgrade public-accessible buildings to fire code and present building standards, with an understanding that certain code requirements may be impractical for historic restoration or detrimental to preserving a building’s character, and thus building-code flexibility is imperative.Adaptive re-use has proved to be a sound and sustainable approach to the renewed use of historic structures, but it also aligns well with a strong push within municipality for the environmental benefits in their architecture. Some older structures are determined to better conserve energy, and certainly the retention of them in use saves the substantial energy already invested in their original fabrication. Can we not emphasize the savings to our Municipality in avoiding demolition, avoiding the burden on transfer stations and landfill sites, material costs and procurement carbon-expending transport mileage. Again, appeal to the values the Municipality wishes to project and which symbolize its attractiveness to residents and tourists alike would have to be part of the strategic landscape of persuasion.
Darrell Toms: Without doing research I don’t feel I can accurately give an opinion at this time.
Q7: What is your position on the Penryn/Victoria Street woodlot?
Chris J. Collins: We must learn from mistakes. If a municipality has not already identified an area such as Penryn/Victoria as a heritage area and initiated safeguards through by-laws, zoning etc, we have failed. To support and allow partial allowance is precedent setting – Phase 5 but not 5b. We were not proactive.
Vicki Mink: Without question the woodlot should be saved. I believe the woodlot is historically important to the position and location to the Penryn home. I also believe it is ecologically significant. What is most frustrating is that the developer of that entire area did not deliver on what was originally planned. Over the course of 20 years the development changed to the advantage of the developer every time. It is always a situation of taking and never giving or even a compromise.
Betsey Price: There is no justification in this day and age for the destruction of any old-growth woodlot. Penryn Woods/Victoria Street South woodlot, which is clearly at risk of being clear cut by AON/Mason Homes, must NOT be lost to development. Port Hope’s Official Plan stands by the Penryn Woodland, identifying it as “significant”, and all councillors should stand by the present Official Plan of Port Hope. The protected natural heritage feature that is the woodlot has been recognized as such by all concerned parties, including the county’s Natural Heritage System Plan, if not absolutely all stakeholders, as “significant”. There is no known justification for the proposal from AON Mason Homes to destroy the woodlot. It must be stopped!
Darrell Toms: My opinion with the information I have at this time would be to keep the woodlot and protect the wildlife that calls it home.