While waiting on contractors to line up all our trades people I thought I would discuss a applicable and vital topic today, that being Built Heritage Protection. Being on the Bonavista Town Council and also a board member of two heritage groups in my hometown I am in a unique position to help raise awareness of and foster a greater respect and protection for our priceless built heritage. At times I almost feel like the Bonavista Heritage Police when walking around town, and I must say Leann finds it a little entertaining.
Last week I had a call from a good friend of mine, who like me, values investments made in built heritage around our community. He questioned whether or not the owner of a restored home had guidelines to follow when renovating their property. I replied that they may do what they like on the inside of their home (unfortunately in some cases) but the exterior of the home follows various levels of protocol and protection depending on the property in question. Once he told me which property, I had to hop into the car and take a look for myself, as he did not state exactly what was happening.
Driving up to the property I found workers constructing what looked to be an enormous platform like deck right off the front of the home, right off the restored sun porch! What is this? I had to ask what was going on. ' A deck for an above ground swimming pool' they told me. WHAT? On the front of the house, a pool deck? Since a permit would be required for such an atrocity I went to the town hall to dig a bit deeper.
No permit was granted and they knew nothing about it. The protocol in Bonavista for alteration of any heritage property first has the request come to the town hall and then it is sent to the Bonavista Townscape Foundation and Historical Society where a steering committee decides on the alteration or removal of features with structures deemed historically significant. This did not happen in this case as the home owner did not request a town permit.
This situation is far more serious and urgent then those in the past as it involves a provincially designated heritage property that has a highly visible position in the community. This home also has provincial significance since it was awarded the Southcott Award for heritage preservation. The alteration, done without permit, is now in the hands of the town council, but as for the damage and visual destruction of a landmark property, the town must make a stand! We cannot and must not stand by as our heritage, our built landscape that we have worked so tirelessly to preserve, loses its integrity.
Owners of such properties, be it in Trinity, Brigus, Tilting or wherever, must understand that they are expected to be stewards of Newfoundland’s history, a history we cannot afford to lose. Off on my next patrol, and hope to discuss actual home renovation progress soon. John Norman, signing out.