letter to the editor 560x373


I would like the opportunity to express some concerns I have for Southampton’s buildings and overall street appeal. For the past month, Matt Weichel and I worked together, unsuccessfully, to preserve one of Southampton’s original and most beloved buildings located on our town’s High Street. I believe there are some issues we face as a community involving placing blame on people without precedence when it comes to this topic; I hope that as an enlightened group we can hear all concerns without bias. It is my intention to politely and respectfully begin a conversation on this topic without polarizing the issue further.

It is in my opinion that if a building holds cultural and historical value it is a community benefit. The Ontario Heritage Act determines this cultural, historical or associative value through a person, belief, activity, organization and architectural interest. I believe that individuals who purchase these buildings could be made aware of the social responsibility to the group. Designation is not meant to hinder development but rather enable compatibility to the area.

Southampton is a tourist town in Southern Ontario but it falls short when compared to Niagara on the Lake, Stratford and other tourist towns when it comes to the protection of these buildings. Please consider that people visit these communities for the quant curb appeal of yesteryears store fronts and houses. In Europe you don’t hear people say, "Let's tear this building down because it leans, is cracked or is simply old." Quebec City is one of Canada’s most beautiful cities because it is one of our oldest cities. They recognized very early on that their future commercial success was reliant on preserving their storied past.

The reality is that if we don’t act now to protect these buildings we are at risk of changing the face of our beautiful shore side home. Glen Huron was structurally sound, well taken care of and a beautiful building that our town was so lucky to boast. I am proud to call myself a resident of this town but I must admit my disappointment that Glen Huron was left exposed to demolition. Especially given that the previous owners quickly recognized they would be far better off to divest themselves of the home rather than endure the persistent and clear protests raised by local residents (voters). A common response has been that if people loved this building so much they should have purchased it and saved it themselves. This could be viewed as a short-sighted response since it is our town officials who we voted for who are responsible to designate these buildings with or without consent from the homeowners.

It would be wonderful if one day we could look at designating (Part 5) in our downtown and waterfront. Until this day is a reality it would be a benefit to our town to look at these buildings and get all of our important properties identified and at least listed so new purchasers are informed of possible future intent, consequently avoiding another Glen Huron demolition. For example, the former Southampton manse. I hope this opens people up to consider conserving the esthetic charm that is the fundamental basis for tourism in our town, that we could be considerate of everyone and all industries when making decisions for the future.

Thank you,
Carolyn Wilson

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