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Heritage Committee looking to celebrate local century homes

Midland Heritage Committee hopes council will approve the Century House Plaque Program so residents can celebrate their century-old houses

The Midland Heritage Committee will be recommending to council a Century House Plaque Program that will help celebrate older houses in the town.

At its meeting this week, the committee voted unanimously to move the program forward for council approval.

"It's a replica of a Heritage Toronto program," said Terry Fegarty, committee member, who spearheaded a similar program for Tay Township a couple years ago and has now brought it to Midland. "They do something very similar there and there's another municipality in Southern Ontario that's picked it up and Tay Township has it." 

The program, said Fegarty, is a way to stress the importance of old houses that may have heritage profiles.

"It's a way that proud house owners can display their wares, shall we say," he added.

Once the program and plaque designs have been approved by council, residents will be able to make applications to have their houses inducted into this program. The main criteron is that the building has to be at least 100 years old. 

"We (committee and town planning staff) vet the application and check it against tax records and so on to verify it is 100 years old," said Fegarty. "We don't apply any stricter definitions to it in terms of property that might be designated as heritage, because it doesn't have a recognition in terms of provincial designation."

Still, he said, it's a way for people to make their houses stand out in comparison to their neighbours' houses.

Once the house has been approved for the project, the committee will then approve the purchase of the plaque, have it manufactured and shipped to the applicant, who has to pay the cost in full. In the staff report, the cost is estimated to be up to $160. 

As for the design and material used for the plaque, Fegarty said, "It will probably be an aluminum plate and the paint on it will be enamel. The colour scheme will be white lettering or numbers on a black surface and two screw holes for fastening it to the wall." 

According to the staff report presented to the committee, the plaque will also double as an address marker.

"The program  provides  an  opportunity  for  homeowners  to  apply  for  a custom-made historical  markers  commemorating the longevity  of  the home," said the report. 

"The program  would benefit  the municipality  by  raising awareness  of  important  architectural,  historic,  and cultural  features  within the community and help create  a sense  of  community. The program is intended to  commemorate homes that are not designated under the Ontario Heritage Act but still contributes to the uniquely built heritage of Midland," noted the report.

Further to that, Fegarty said, the program is an advantage to the municipality because it is revenue neutral.

"The purchaser pays the whole cost and they're made to cost, so there is no inventory," he said. "The township may incur some administrative costs, but it can be done without an impact on the budget."

When he started the program in Tay Township, Fegarty said, It was slow to start.

"Typically, you have one or two plaques going in neighbourhoods and then neighbours see it and they apply, too," he said. "So it tends to grow over time."