As Milton deals with ever-escalating residential and commercial growth, at times it has impaired the municipality’s ability to retain residential and commercial buildings of significant historical interest to the community.
A provincial program that provided nominal financial grants to owners of residential and commercial buildings that were designated under the Ontario Heritage Act was cancelled by the Wynne-McGuinty Government — a program that proved successful in our community in terms of encouraging local residents to identify, restore and maintain buildings of significant historical interest.
While the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport currently provides annual operating support to historical societies, museums and other heritage associations that promote public awareness of Ontario’s rich and diverse heritage through its Heritage Organization Development Grant and the Government has given municipalities, through municipal heritage tax rebate programs, the ability to provide partial property tax relief on the municipality’s dime to owners who restore residential and commercial buildings that are designated under the Ontario Heritage Act as being of architectural or historical value, the Province is no longer a partner in the preservation of local buildings of significant historical interest.
In April 2019, I asked Milton Council to support a motion asking the Government to re-instate the program. That motion was seconded by Milton Ward 1 Regional Councillor Colin Best and supported by all members of Council.
While I fully comprehend the difficult financial state that the Ford Government finds itself in, one that was not of its own making but one that it inherited from the Wynne/McGuinty Government, the heritage building restoration grant is an insignificant expense whose re-instatement won’t move the Government perceptibly further away from fiscal balance. The program has helped to identify, restore and maintain a number of residential and commercial buildings of historical importance in our community over most of the last 30 years. Upon review of Council’s request, I am confident that the Government will restore this cost-effective program, one that brings local governments, the provincial government and property owners together in a collaborative fashion to protect key physical components of our rich history for generations to come. CR