Heritage Update: Bill 108 Town Hall May 30 2019

Heritage Toronto was pleased to be an invited panelist at the Bill 108 Town Hall held this week at City Hall. It was very energizing to speak with a sold out crowd and hear from so many councillors in attendance including Kristyn Wong-Tam, Paula Fletcher, Josh Matlow, Gord Perks, Ana Bailão, Mike Layton and Brad Bradford. Simultaneously, these councillors' peers were speaking at a similar, sold out Town Hall in North York. Clearly, the Toronto public is alarmed by the incoming Bill 108 and the many implications of the 13 different statutes which will impact our city and the planning process, including how heritage buildings are conserved and how development applications are reviewed.
Our remarks focused on the changes to the Ontario Heritage Act. When the Act was originally enacted in 1975, it was on the central belief that that local people through their city councillors best knew what was important to be identified, protected, and preserved in their communities. Now, Bill 108 is about to strip all power away from our local city council and planners, and instead entrusts the provincial OMB/tribunal to decide what heritage properties are important and what shall be protected within our communities.
Many of us worked through decades of asking for the OMB to be disbanded. Finally, our previous government ended the OMB after a year of public consultations. Today, our government is allowing for 6 ½ hours of deputations to be held this week prior to bringing Bill 108 into effect. It is particularly difficult to comment on the Bill when details, including regulations and principles guiding the legislation, have not been made available.
Heritage Toronto believes the government should pull back Bill 108, including changes to the Ontario Heritage Act and the return of the OMB, until the heritage sector and local communities are given time to review details of the legislation and provide helpful comments. 
The provincial government has met with the development community, many of whom do excellent work with heritage properties. The government would benefit from affording the same opportunities to heritage experts, the people who live in the community, and the people who were elected to represent them. Then our province could bring forward a Bill of which they would be proud.
What can you do? Keep calling and keep writing to Premier FordMinister Clark, and to the Standing Committee. Tell your friends and relatives to do the same.
Allison Bain