"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Saturday 8 March 2014

Guest Post by Tim the Enchanter

Tim the Enchanter has left a new comment on your post "A Different Perspective":

"I see well cared for houses that are all different. No cookie cutter houses."

That's quite the welcome to our newer neighbours in east Aurora.
I wonder how much in Development Charges we collected from those homes?
Enough to pay for a "special" neighbourhood?

"people travel from all over to learn our history"

Bray reports that heavy traffic is a concern and that residents feel the area needs traffic calming measures.
Parking isn't considered to be a problem but if it does become an issue the Town could build a parking structure behind the shops on Yonge south of Wellington.
I assume they intend that all Aurora taxpayers pay for that.

It says the intent of the Promenade Plan is to provide options to automobile use.
I guess that means we aren't supposed to drive there.

On tourism the report basically says Town Park, the Library and the Cultural Centre can accommodate any events necessary.
It does mention however that the Jazz Festival was considered too noisy by many residents and apparently baseball was too disruptive as well.
Walking tours are fine and driving tours are okay too as long as the vehicles aren't too big, noisy or smoky.

" we have so much history to offer the "world"! You have to think big!"

So the key selling points of the district are history and tourism but without large festivals, sporting activities, more traffic, additional parking or tour buses?

So much for "thinking big".

I think it is quite clear that the author's idea of urban heaven doesn't include the "world" or even the rest of Aurora unfortunate enough to live outside the meandering red line on the "plan".
And isn't that really the objective of the Heritage District?
An urban oasis, legally frozen in time right in the middle of a modern suburban commuter community but mere steps away from all the mod cons big box sprawl can offer.
The best of both worlds.

Can't afford to live in an exclusive gated community?
Simply get the Town to draw lines on a map and voila!
(just remember to keep mentioning the importance of heritage - they like that sort of thing.)

Joanne Russo, representing members of the local community...... advised that she had met with other residents in the area who were unaware of the proposed designation, and requested for herself, and on their behalf, additional time to familiarize and educate themselves regarding heritage planning and designation.

That seems reasonable to me.
Perhaps not everyone is a fan of the proposal.
But that's OK - there's no rush is there?

Put together an information package with all the details and rules and make sure every ratepayer in the district gets one.
owning a heritage property or running a business in a heritage zone presents unique challenges and financial considerations so it's only fair to take a few months to answer questions and make sure everyone understands what it all will mean.
Then collect signatures and get a hard count of support.
If you are successful don't forget to bill each heritage district ratepayer their share of the implementation costs.

You see, I've already lost money on another "special" neighbourhood when I was billed twice for their traffic calming chicanes.
Once when they demanded they be installed and again when they demanded they be taken out.

Not this time.

You want "jewels" - you pay for them

Posted by Tim the Enchanter to Our Town and Its Business at 7 March 2014 22:49


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

OMG They claim baseball is too disruptive !!!!!
It is interesting to note that well after the fact it is acknowledged that the neighbours did not like the Jazz Fest. We knew that - why did it take a study - why did we pay for it ?

Christopher Watts said...

Having sat through the last Heritage Advisory Committee meeting hearing both sides :


As well as reading through Mr. Bray (who in person comes across as Michael Ignatiff's twin brother)'s report I wholehartedly agree with Tim's comparison of a district boundary to a gated community.

Living in such a prestigious bubble seems to be of the utmost importance to some, which was evident in HAC, and subcommittee member Irina Kelly's informative history lesson as to how this whole study

was initiated by Wells Street Neighbours (or H.E.A.T.) because the former Mayor informed Ms Kelly that the only way to prevent a monster home from popping up in her neighborhood was to form a ratepayers group and seek a heritage


Apparently a summit of neighbors was held at Bonsai Tea shop, which ironically isn't even inside the boundaries of the study, and as a result the same group saw fit to needlessly rush a designation town park "heritage" (

http://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/aurora-town-park/ ) I suppose they believed this would provide more

prestige and status to town park.

This same ratepayers group also sought to immediately halt any development on library square until this district is in place. And we wonder why adaptive re-use of town lands that have been deemed surplus for 2 decades get sidetracked.

I also caught the point in the Bray report under traffic that stated "parking isn't considered a problem, with the

exception of special events" and then it becomes a huge problem. But let's not dwell on that, because of course the town can easily just throw up a parking garage right?


When I read "options to" automobile use I read "alternatives to". Given the piss poor engagement on behalf of the

consultant and sub committee I doubt anyone bothered to walk the district from different entrance points to determine

exactly what options exist, or even recognize current hindrances to pedestrian traffic one recent example being snow: http://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/walking-in-a-winter-blunderland/

I suspect the same people living inside this heritage bubble that expect everyone to decend on them by foot would not even conceive of abandoning their own cars to travel to other areas of town.

As already pointed out by Tim the traffic calming debacle that occurred in the North East district should serve as a cautionary tale about placing one neighbourhood's needs/safety/heritage/whatever over anothers.

I'm glad that Concerned Residents of Aurora Centre has come forward to express how they have not been engaged during

this whole process. I see that the attempts to placate this group have included setting up a booth at the farmers

market and hosting a 1hr public information session: http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?p=5680

When it comes to establishing a district boundaries are everything, yet what I can't comprehend is how loose the whole process is with respect to boundaries. They are not established until late in the process.

As it stands currently the boundary crossed north on Wellington Street but falls short of the buildings on the East of Yonge? The consultants weren't willing to Include the remaining Sisman Shoe Building or the train station until the committee questioned this.

You would think these kinds of things would have been ironed out by this stage, and now others seem to be questioning this as well.

Anonymous said...

If the bulk of the Councillors were counting on that new Heritage District as the plank upon which they could run, they have just hit a solid wall. There is nothing to set them apart - they all look unhinged.

Anonymous said...

The mess that Morris and her followers caused and is still causing still astounds me. And to think that this term of council hasn't put a lid on any of it is shameful.

Tim the Enchanter said...



A portion of Section 3.1.4 from the report.

"The recent jazz festival lasted over a weekend, with shows lasting well into the late evening, thus testing the patience of local residents for whom the sound was omnipresent. Even organized baseball has been removed due
to concerns over damage from balls hit over the fence, overcrowded
parking, and the jollity associated with game time cheering and postgame celebrations."

Not sure what jollity is but it sounds disgusting.
Can I get it from any sport or just baseball?
Do you have to see a doctor or can you get something over-the-counter?

Anonymous said...

Yep, not a lot of jollity about.

Anonymous said...

Let's take a theoretical mainly residential area 6 blocks by 4 blocks. Within it are a number of homes. From a mere glance one could say that certain of those homes, because of age, architecture, mature trees, building materials, would apparently qualify for a heritage designation.

And then there are other homes, more recently built, bungalows, split-levels, made of brick, of a stander architecture (sub-division style), which would appear to not warrant a heritage designation. But they are still located within that specific area.

If a heritage designated area brings with it restrictions on improvements one can make to one's home, whether if be a change in the colour of paint or in the material used to re-shingle a roof, or the addition of a solarium, can a home-owner make application to the planning department for approval of such change? On what basis will the application be considered? Will the application be granted or rejected. Can a home-owner appeal a decision?

Now let's look at the two types of houses described in the first two paragraphs. Are they both subject to the same process although one is clearly not a heritage home, merely a house within a heritage designated district?

This heritage district business seems very confusing.

Anonymous said...

This town was playing baseball well before the current residents took occupancy. It's like those people who buy homes near a railway track and then try to silence the trains or remove them altogether.

Anonymous said...

Maybe when the weather gets better, we can field a team or two of baseball players. A couple of former councillors would be cool. Even ask some of the current ones to participate & see how they handle that one ?

Anonymous said...

We have a Town Park where organized baseball is banned ? How did that happen ? I can't recall hearing anything about it. In fact, I've never heard of such a thing. In most Town Parks the kids have the diamonds all day & the adults take over in the evenings. It's a family thing where everyone is welcome.

Anonymous said...

Some homes will be allowed to put their Xmas lights out whenever they wish. Those with a designation will only be able to show a pre-determined # of lights during a strictly enforced period before the holiday and must be turned off immediately after that time.

Anonymous said...

Enough with "heritage."

It has become a dirty eight-letter word!