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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted August 07, 2013 at 15:02:33
I think the most egregious part of this plan is the dangling of taxpayer subsidies in the reverse order in which they should be offered. Instead of designating the core, letting Blanchard & co. apply for the grants, and then ensuring their development plan meets the objectives of the Hamilton Heritage Grant Program, McHattie, Farr & their backroom dealers have apparently seen it fit to allow the developer to determine the conditions in which he will be able to access grant money.
So instead of real conservation, we will have a facsimile of it, at taxpayer expense. A developer who allowed his properties to deteriorate to a state which they are uneconomical to save is seemingly being encouraged by our civic leaders to destroy the properties now to take advantage of good financing terms, then reach into our collective pockets and access monies set aside for the conservation of our city's history and heritage.
Not only does this proposed plan fly in the face of the Heritage Grant Program's objective to to "assist in developing and re-using heritage properties", it will render the entire exercise of heritage conservation meaningless. What next? Civic money to companies who design new-build developments that look like buildings from our city's past?
The point of the HHGP is not to re-imagine the past through development today, but to actually conserve the heritage that still remains in our core.
I sincerely hope Councillors Farr & McHattie take another hard look at the deal they've facilitated here. Hollow words about "imperfect situations" don't obscure the fact that they've jerry-rigged an agreement that pleases no one but the developer, and is certainly more corporate welfare than true heritage conservation.
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