The City’s heritage planners are giving a second life to an innovative program designed to preserve more of the Edmonton’s old homes.
“One of the best ways to ensure the preservation of identified heritage homes and formally designated heritage homes is to give their owners the confidence to deal with repairs or suitable upgrades,” says principal heritage planner David Johnston.
This Old Edmonton House is a program that offers heritage homeowners 11 different evening courses in a wide variety of subjects to help them understand the unique requirements of maintaining a heritage property.
The program will take place Monday evenings between February 29 and April 19. Its location at the John Walter Museum in the river valley is highly appropriate, since instructors can use the historic homes there to help them explain their specialty subjects to participants.
Subjects include windows and doors, mechanical/electrical systems, roofs and exteriors, millwork and floors, historic interior design and wall treatments such as historic wallpaper design.
“Lots of people who own homes on what we call the Inventory of Historic Resources want to help us maintain historic homes in the best possible condition, but they just don’t know how,” says David. “These courses will equip them with some do-it-yourself skills by demystifying elements of the home, or will at least enable them to deal with contractors from a position of knowledge.”
A historic home generally must be more than 50 years old, historically significant and it must have most of its historical physical integrity (for example, not substantially upgraded, expanded or renovated).
Resources can be added – typically at the owner’s request, but also through reviews of individual neighbourhoods by the City – on the Inventory, provided they meet the identified criteria. Being included on the Inventory involves no formal control or protection, except perhaps a phone call or friendly visit from a heritage planner if the owner applies for a substantial building permit to alter the structure, or to demolish it.
If owners are serious about preservation and want some help maintaining or upgrading a property listed on the Inventory, they can apply for the house to become formally designated and protected as a Municipal Historic Resource.
It requires the preparation of a full report, gathering of contractor’s quotes for rehabilitation work, the drawing up of a contract and the submission to City Council of a special bylaw for that specific building.
David says it’s very important for the City to encourage the preservation of older homes, since they are what give neighbourhoods the unique character that people seek.
The City has about 815 identified heritage properties, roughly 450 of which are homes. Of those homes, approximately 40 have received formal heritage designation. They are located in all sorts of neighbourhoods with all sorts of owners.
If you have a heritage home and want to learn more about how to properly take care of it, consider attending one of the 11 upcoming This Old Edmonton House seminars.
For more information please visit: edmonton.ca/thisoldhouse