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Concerns linger as City of Vaughan updates Kleinburg’s heritage plan

Concerns are still lingering in the air on whether the city is adhering to heritage guidelines
March 11, 2020
Dina Al-Shibeeb

Roger Dickinson, aged 80, has a charming British accent. But he is a true Canadian who has called the historic village of Kleinburg his home for the past 31 years.

Dickinson fondly remembers the “best thing ever” when he volunteered to organize and participate in the Binder Twine Festival in Kleinburg, which allowed him to form friendships and gave him a sense of community.

However, the festival hasn’t been active for the past three years, maybe an omen of how Kleinburg is slowly changing.

On Feb. 26, Dickinson was among 13 people who attended a consultation meeting where the city’s developer met with them to get their feedback in order to produce a draft on an updated version for the Kleinburg-Nashville Heritage Conservation District Study and Plan.

The draft study also comes after some proposals on heritage homes, including some needing demolition to produce a replica -- like the case of 10513 Islington Ave. -- and the demolition of another historical existing dwelling and detached garage followed by the construction of a two-storey dwelling with a detached garage, similar to the case at 705 Nashville Rd.

For the city, meanwhile, it says, “It’s time for an update.”

In 2003, the Kleinburg-Nashville Heritage Conservation District Study and Plan was adopted, and in 2007 an “amendment to the plan” was also ratified.

“Preserving and maintaining the history and integrity of Vaughan’s communities is an important part of what makes the city a dynamic and attractive place to live, work and play,” the city said in an email.

The city is updating the heritage plan to “determine what is required to continue protecting the area’s heritage properties and landscapes, to address recent changes to Provincial policies and to implement more modern conservation standards.”

However, concerns still linger about whether the city is adhering to these guidelines.

In 2016, Dickinson objected against the proposed development on Stegman’s Mill Road, which was “approved by council but has not been started.”

The proposal was to demolish three large lots of individual homes and build 28 single family homes above a single parking garage.

For him, this is a prime example of how the city isn’t adhering to the heritage plan as it states one home should be replaced by one home and should “complement” and “enhance” the heritage character of the place.

When asked about the other development proposals for Islington and Nashville, the heart of Kleinburg, Mark Inglis, another resident, said the “massing of the buildings is not in keeping with the Kleinburg-Nashville Heritage Study.”

Inglis defined massing as “the size of a building and its impact on the street and neighbourhood.”

He pointed to examples of two buildings at “the intersection of Stegmans Mill and Islington” both having “masses greater than that of their predecessors” and said “the set backs and landscape reduced the impact on the street.”

He added, “What are proposed by the more recent proposals do not provide the same respect to the street, nor its neighbouring buildings. So whereas the heritage buildings on those sites were set back and no more than two storeys, the proposals are for three storeys built at the street line.”

Other woes include how parking is “limited and unsatisfactory” and how a “tree cover, which is a natural heritage, is removed and unsatisfactorily replaced,” he said.

“Downtown Kleinburg needs a consolidated review of developments. Existing developers need to be encouraged to work together as their developments equally affect transportation, urban design, parking and streetscape,” he added.

“This village needs to be permeable for pedestrian thoroughfare.”

The city, however, vowed that “all current and future developments within the Heritage Conservation District will conform with the guidelines set out in the Heritage Conservation District Plan, as well as the Vaughan Official Plan 2010 and all other applicable bylaws.”

Talks also to continue on what to do with some of these historic buildings. The 10513 Islington Ave. proposal was slated to be discussed at the Committee of the Whole meeting March 9 with a decision to be ratified by council March 11. For 705 Nashville Rd., the date for discussion has been deferred to the next Heritage Vaughan Committee meeting on March 25.