Wednesday, October 12, 2011

1840 Alma Cottage, Haviland Home Threatened

Heritage butts heads with reality in Charlottetown
Former Thomas Haviland home, putting heritage against possible sale. Google Street

Owners of history-rich building want to remove heritage designation to allow sale
History versus the reality of maintenance is a battle once again before Charlottetown city council.
At stake is a home filled with history at 38-40 Upper Prince Street, a white home, now apartments located right beside Prince Street school.
It is now designated a heritage property but the current owners want to sell. Council was told that potential buyers are willing to spend upwards of $75,000 to renovate the quickly deteriorating building, but only if the heritage designation is removed because the renovations will not be consistent with heritage constraints.
A motion came to Charlottetown council Tuesday at the October monthly meeting, asking for a public meeting about removing the heritage designation.
The heritage committee recommended against that, effectively keeping the heritage designation.
Eventually the motion was deferred to some later date.
The building, known as Alma Cottage, was once the home of the prominent Haviland family.
"Alma Cottage was constructed in the 1840s," says a heritage report on the city of Charlottetown web site. "It is not clear if Thomas Heath Haviland (1822-1895) built the structure, but he and his family were residents of the home until almost the middle of the Twentieth Century."
Haviland was an active career politician, being in government as solicitor-general, then leader of the Opposition. He was active in negotiating P.E.I.'s entry into confederation, was appointed to the Senate, then Lieutenant Governor of PEI and finally served as Mayor of Charlottetown.
"Two of his major accomplishments while in office included the completion of the current Charlottetown City Hall building and the construction of a public water system," says the citation on this heritage home.
Requests to de-designate heritage resources are very uncommon and I don't think one has ever been approved, - Coun. Rob Lantz, chair of the Charlottetown's heritage committee
"Requests to de-designate heritage resources are very uncommon and I don't think one has ever been approved," said Coun. Rob Lantz, chair of the city's heritage committee.
He told council that this property got a heritage grant of $1,000 in 2009 to help fix its roof, something only possible with its heritage designation.
"It would send a very poor signal," said Lantz, to remove the heritage designation after the owners received a grant because of it.
Coun. Bernard picked up on something Lantz said earlier in the meeting about a "pot" of money available for heritage property maintenance grants. That pot amounts to a maximum of $4,000 every two years, council had been told.
Bernard presented the motion for deferral.
"I don't think (the current property owners) are aware of the amount of help that is possible they could access," said Bernard.
Lantz acknowledged after some debate that the $4,000 cap for assistance is low and may need to be reconsidered later.
"That amount probably doesn't go as far as it used to," said Lantz.
He added however that for this Haviland property, the owners knew what assistance is available.
Coun. Mitchell Tweel said the building needs a lot of work.
"The (current owners) are at a point were they can no longer maintain this property," said Tweel. "Here you have a potential buyer willing to spend $75,000. Maybe this could be a win, win.
"The last thing we want to do it have a dis-incentive as opposed to an incentive that is enticing and encouraging people to buy homes that are designated heritage," said Tweel.

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