Historic Buildings To Be Part Of Facade Program
The oldest building in Moose Jaw is about to receive City funding and some outside tender loving care.
At Monday evening’s meeting of Council the Downtown Facade Improvement Grant program was expanded to extend outside the Downtown core and include historic buildings as well.
Under the pilot program qualifying building owners could receive up to 50 percent of facade improvements to their buildings up to a maximum of $5,000. Additionally unless changed by this amendment the boundaries of the pilot program only included the Downtown core.
The request to expand the program came after Administration sent out an application form for the program to the owners of the oldest building in the city - the former Chinese United Church at 303 High Street West and now Fit For Life - and they applied.
After the application was received it was discovered the oldest building in the city was just outside the boundaries of the facade program. A request came from the Heritage Advisory Committee to expand the program to all heritage buildings in the city as a result.
The Downtown Facade Improvement Grant policy was hotly debated during budget considerations as Councillor Brian Swanson questioned where all of the “hidden pots of gold” were being discovered and the funds could be used elsewhere.
During that discussion Councillor Crystal Froese said the $20,000 dedicated to the project was available and otherwise would just sit in a reserve account and unused.
The pilot program was only approved in a 4 - 3 vote with Councillors Scott McMann, Luhning and Swanson opposed Executive Committee Approves Facade Program
The Downtown Facade Program allows qualifying buildings to receive up to $5000 from the City on a 50/50 matching grant basis for approved facade repairs and upgrades, the program is a one year pilot project and was proposed by the Heritage Advisory Committee.
There was a provincial program in the past to assist with funding downtown facade improvements but at the time it was a highly controversial issue at Council due to the funding requirements it may have imposed on the City.
Addressing Council director of planning Michelle Sanson said the amendments to the facade program were being made to allow all municipal declared heritage properties.
The properties included in the expanded program, and outside the existing boundary for the program, are Ross School, Moose Jaw Cemetery, Jitney Dance Hall in Connors Park and the former Chinese United Church.
“There were some comments with respect to this specific application whether or not the proposed renovations complied with the heritage aspects of the building. Was it determined they didn’t if it serves my memory?” Councillor Swanson asked.
“There is some parts of the application we are not recommending for any of the grant funding. We are only recommending certain portions of it to be approved,” Sanson replied.
The facade improvements at the former Chinese United Church will cost the program $4157 based on a 50/50 share.
In a vote of 6 - 1 with Councillor Swanson opposed and Mayor Fraser Tolmie, Councillors Froese, McMann, Luhning, Chris Warren and Heather Eby in favour.