City thwarts opportunity to save historic house
Saturday, Mar 18, 2017 06:00 am
Further to the article on rezoning denied for the Hebert Residence at 11 Mill Drive (Gazette, March 1) I should like to provide additional information as I was the planning consultant retained to seek the rezoning approvals.
The Hebert Residence is one of only two residences from the pre-1945 era that is recognized by the City’s Heritage Inventory. This recognition conveys eligibility for designation as a Municipal Historic Resource. The inventory describes the Hebert Residence as one that is a “rare historic resource in St. Albert,” that “stands out in its neighbourhood as a notable local landmark.”
Further, St. Albert’s Community Vision, adopted by Council in 2015, states that we build our community “with a reverent eye to the past.” Additionally, we “celebrate and honour our origins by preserving our local landmarks.”
The proposal was to convert the Hebert Residence to an office for a small scale, limited, low impact business, with no change to the exterior. It was a pragmatic and financial viable method to conserve, sustain and enhance the residence. There are many successful examples of similar conversions across the nation. The business use would apply only to the existing residence.
Direct control zoning is a mechanism that can, when skillfully applied, provide a ‘tailor-made’ set of land use and development regulations to address occupancy, parking, traffic, drainage, signage, exterior finish and other valid neighbourhood concerns. It allows for the integration of neighbourhood, civic and land owner interests.
Sadly, the opportunity for further discussions to address these concerns and interests was thwarted by the city’s opposition to the conversion.
The logical, if unintended, consequence of this opposition may be that the Hebert Residence will meet the fate of too many of our community’s heritage resources.
We leave it to the reader to conclude whether or not the city’s recent decision is consistent with its vision and goal to “celebrate and honour our origins by preserving local landmarks”.
We would also invite community members to pass by the Hebert Residence at 11 Mill Drive to pay their last respects to a 111-year-old landmark in our community.
David Klippenstein, St. Albert