You Can Help Make Sure a Federal Bill for Protecting Heritage and Historic Sites across Niagara and Canada is Passed

Read the following Call to Action from a respected heritage activist in Niagara, Ontario and find out what you can do to help

A Guest Column by veteran Niagara heritage advocate Pamela Minns

Posted September 29th, 2017 on Niagara At Large                                                                                                   

In their pre-election message October, 2015 to the heritage sector, the Liberal Party of Canada expressed their willingness to consider financial incentives for historic places.

The revitalization of downtown Thorold has received national attention and has been a project done in partnership with local heritage advocates like Pamela Minns, local businesses, Thorold’s city council and the provincial and federal governments.

 

It was understood from Anna Gainey, President of the Liberal Party, that the government would work in collaboration with the heritage sector and other stakeholders, to examine measures that promote the preservation and rehabilitation of Canada’s heritage buildings.  “We are open to measures that use the tax system that stimulate private investments in heritage buildings”.

Bill C-323 can be viewed online in its entirety; it is a Private Member’s Bill to amend the Income Tax Act for the rehabilitation of historic properties.  This was presented to the Federal Government by Peter Van Loan MP York-Simcoe – the Critic for Canadian Heritage & National Historic Sites. 

In a nutshell, this Bill is to create tax incentives for the rehabilitation of historic property, which includes the creation of:  a 20 per cent tax credit on eligible costs for rehabilitation work done to designated historic places (commercial and owner-occupied residential) –and- an accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for eligible capitalized costs incurred under the same conditions of the tax credit (commercial only).

These two tax measures alone would transform the economic fundamentals for renewing historic places.  In the process it would create more skilled jobs, generate less carbon than new construction and prevent demolition and the detrimental effects of loading our landfills.

The tax credits in Bill C-323 are inspired by the success of the US Federal Historic Tax Credit Program in place for 40 years.  Since its creation in 1976 – $23.1 billion in federal credits have generated more than $28.1 billion in additional federal tax revenue and leveraged over $120.8 billion in private investment (a 5 to 1 ratio of private investment to tax credits).

Thorold’s historic fire hall, circa 1878, in the downtown area is a designated heritage site

 

In the process it has created 2.4 million jobs and preserved 41,254 historic properties.  This program has created over 525,000 housing units, 27 of which were affordable for low/moderate income families.  Leverage and multiplier effects data has shown, again and again, that the U.S. program is a strategic investment that works –  BUT, we are 40 years behind them!

There are hundreds, if not thousands of volunteers in this country who desperately need this bill to be passed.  They work tirelessly to preserve our built heritage and have very little, if anything, to offer our designated property owners, who have restrictions on their properties, bear the high cost of restoration, increased taxes and insurance, and who proudly act as stewards of Canada’s heritage. 

Volunteers make all of this happen. They are the foundation upon which preservation is built; without their commitment and passion, the whole “heritage movement” would fall apart !  I have witnessed some areas in Ontario where volunteers have given up – they are tired of the constant fight and their unheeded requests for help from Canada’s Government. 

We can’t let this continue to happen.  The Government of Canada has an obligation to make good on their promise to be “open to measures that use the tax system that stimulate private investments in heritage buildings”. 

The U.S. example says it all – the figures support the story – and we are lagging behind them by 40 years!  I would ask the Federal Government if they really want to preserve our Canadian built heritage…………. or not ?

Before considering the Bill, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development is expected to embark on a study of the “State of Historic Places in Canada” – an important “first” for the Committee, that can help give context to the proposals for financial incentives.

What can you do NOW ??

Don’t wait – your action is needed now to get this Bill passed.

Use email, phone and/or letter to :

 Your local Member of Parliament

And to :

 Minister of Finance – Bill Morneau MP Toronto Centre , emal, bill.morneau@canada.ca  or write Hon. Bill Morneau  MP Toronto Centre, Minister of Finance. Centre Block  Suite #4355, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ont.  K1A 0A6

Minister of Environment & Climate Change – Catherine McKenna , MP Ottawa Centre, ema ec.ministre-minister.ec@canada.ca , or write  Hon. Catherine McKenna  MP Ottawa Centre, Minister of Environment & Climate Change, Centre Block Suite #433C,  House of Comm, Ottawa, Ont. K1A 0A6

The originator of the Private Member’s Bill – Peter Van Loan , MP York-Simcoe, email peter.vanloan@parl.gc.ca , or write Hon. Peter Van Loan  MP York-Simcoe, Critic for Canadian Heritage & National Historic Sites , House of Commons, Ottawa, Ont.  K1A 0A6

Send copies to :

Natalie Bull, Executive Director, National Trust for Canada, email nbull@nationaltrustcanada.ca

Chris Wiebe, Manager, Heritage Policy & Government Relations   National Trust for Canada, email : cwiebe@nationaltrustcanada.ca

Pamela Minns is a well-known and respected advocate for protecting and preserving heritage sites in Niagara, Ontario and serves as Secretary-Treasurer for Heritage Thorold LACAC where she lives in the Niagara, Ontario municipality of Thorold.

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater binational Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

 

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2 responses to “You Can Help Make Sure a Federal Bill for Protecting Heritage and Historic Sites across Niagara and Canada is Passed

  1. I’ve written all of the above, and received a boilerplate reply from a Federal functionary. Pam and I still hope that Bill C 323 will be passed. We co-authored a piece for Municipal World magazine on the subject, for a February Heritage issue. Hope springs eternal.

    Like

  2. Congratulations Pam! You have done, and are doing a fabulous job of protecting our precious heritage.
    Ben Minns

    Like

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