What is heritage conservation? A brief overview
Heritage conservation doesn't mean freezing a building in time, creating a museum or tying the hands of property owners so they can't do anything with their properties. Instead, it seeks to maintain and thereby increase the value of buildings by keeping their original built form and architectural elements, favouring their restoration rather than replacement and, when restoration is impossible, recreating scale, period and character.
Heritage Conservation provides concrete benefits to property owners, to businesses and to the community as a whole:
- Heritage preservation and designation increases property values, both of the restored building and surrounding properties.
- Heritage preservation can be a draw to tourism and helps businesses attract customers. Communities, such as Meaford fortunate to have a significant stock of heritage buildings can build their town or city’s image around those elements: Toronto’s Distillery District, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Merrickville are good examples. Retaining the historic integrity of a neighbourhood or downtown attracts people just for that ambiance alone and that attracts business. A small town without a heritage main street attracts no one.
- Restoration keeps money within the community, by requiring fewer materials from outside and more labour-intensive work by local trades.
- With the right programs in place, businesses and building owners can take advantage of government programs and incentives to maintain and restore heritage buildings.
- Restoration reduces construction and demolition waste and uses less than half the energy of new construction.
- Heritage preservation is an investment in our community that rewards us today and leaves an invaluable resource for future generations.