Have you ever been concerned about changes to the neighbourhood? A new infill on your street or new commercial buildings on 13th Avenue? The size, massing and set-back of new construction? These are concerns common in Heritage neighbourhoods trying to strike a balance between new and old. Every 25 years, the City of Regina introduces a new version of the Official Community Plan (OCP), that sets out the plan for future growth of our city. One of the goals of the 2013 OCP is to support areas that are of importance because they include and/or are surrounded by significant heritage properties and resources that are environmentally sensitive and are important natural landscapes to that area.
Much development has occurred in the Cathedral neighbourhood since the inception of the 2013 OCP. One concern is that new development changes the streetscape and threatens the character of the neighbourhood, the things that draw people to this space. We have lost several heritage homes and buildings and unfortunately, also the stories of those places and people who helped to build this community. Residents of this neighbourhood have been vocal with concerns about this loss of heritage and want City Administration to do something.
Heritage Regina shares the concerns of the Cathedral community. Identification and preservation of architectural themes and styles, addressing form and massing (e.g., height, setbacks, etc.) and preventing specific features and styles not complementary to the character and intent of the neighborhood are essential requirements to ensure the preservation of heritage neighbourhoods. Maintaining original buildings for their heritage value and preventing demolition with the realization that some demolition is necessary if certain architectural objectives are respected in new buildings, supports land-use and build-form diversity while ensuring overall compatibility.
A lot of work has been done over the last several years to find solutions to the problem of demolition by neglect, to the loss of heritage buildings to redevelopment, to the lengthy costly for designation of heritage properties and the limited controls on development. While working on solutions, it became clear that Heritage Conservation District (HCD) and/or Direct Control District (DCD) designations were options available to communities to ensure protection for heritage while still allowing for redevelopment which is necessary for the longevity of a any neighbourhood.
We are happy to announce that City Council has just approved $155,000.00 to consult with the Cathedral and Lakeview neighbourhoods on the establishment of Heritage Conservation Districts/Control Zones within these neighborhoods.
HCDs are usually reserved for special areas with outstanding heritage value. An example might be where buildings, streets, and landscaping, combined, have significant heritage value, or where there is a group of original buildings dating back to a specific historic period and where the area is deemed uniquely representative of the historic period. The only example of a HCD, within the city, is the Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District.
A HDC would allow protections for heritage properties not yet assessed for designation and provide protection for lower graded assessed properties that are not eligible for full designation. Designation of any properties in the zone would be based on the heritage assessment and recommendation from city administration. Designation without owner consent would only be recommended in unique situations. A HCD also provides protections for streetscapes, landscapes and important vistas and views between and towards buildings and spaces. Think of the tree lined streets, the vistas from College Avenue, south to the creek and the curved roadways and funky side streets that give Cathedral neighbourhood its character.
The adoption of a HCD ensures that the community’s heritage conservation objectives and stewardship will be respected and sustained into the future. Incentive programs could be extended to the HCD; offering economic benefits to property owners through eligibility for financial incentives to carry out restoration work. A HCD does not include architectural controls and it may not even apply to an entire neighbourhood. Its up to each community to decide.
Combining an HCD with a Direct Control District (DCD), which applies to new development, would further protect the character of the neighborhood. The DCD provides enhanced controls to ensure that new development fits within the character defining elements of a neighbourhood while allowing for a neighbourhood to be renewed. A DCD could direct materials, colors, form, and massing, and apply to rehabilitation and repair when applicable. This option addresses concerns by citizens that demolition and new builds in heritage neighbourhoods does not change the landscape such that we can no longer recognize these neighbourhoods as the oldest in our city. Again, this DCD does not need to be applied to the entire neighbourhood.
Heritage Regina recommends these two options be used simultaneously to achieve the goal of protecting heritage neighbourhoods. This would create a comprehensive tool that allows flexibility and control while supporting neighbourhood renewal. Successful implementation of HCD and DCD will ultimately depend on education and wide-spread public support. We recommend that residents of the Cathedral and Lakeview communities participate fully in this planned consultation.
Remember, our heritage neighbourhoods are eclectic, interesting, and wonderful places to live. They offer a variety of housing forms and contain many examples of combined housing styles. Heritage neighbourhoods will not become cookie cutter neighbourhoods through these controls. These controls will allow the Heritage neighbourhoods to continue to thrive and renew while maintaining the historical features and special characteristics that make these some of the most desirable neighbourhoods in our city. Through control districts residents will continue to enjoy pride of ownership and strong community for years to come.
The Top 10 Endangered Places List shines a national spotlight on historic places at risk due to neglect or lack of funding. The List brings media attention and gives a welcome shot in the arm for local groups involved in challenging campaigns to save places that matter.
As part of its 100th anniversary celebrations, the Canadian Construction Association has signed up as the sponsor for the National Trust’s 2018 Top 10 Endangered Places List.
Content taken from https://nationaltrustcanada.ca/what-we-offer/endangered-places
Moose Jaw Natatorium – Moose Jaw
Why it matters:
For decades, this iconic Depression-era swimming facility was a social hub for the residents of Moose Jaw, hosting dances and weddings, and was the training pool for Moose Jaw’s first Olympian, Phyllis Dewar. Originally fed by a nearby mineral hot spring when it opened in 1932, the facility continues to be a major component of the civic facilities in the centrally located Crescent Park.
Why it’s endangered:
Why it’s endangered: Despite recent investments from all levels of government to update the change rooms and to repair the adjacent outside pool, the Natatorium’s indoor pool has been abandoned for 20 years. Calls for private sector partnerships have been unsuccessful, and while municipal officials struggle to find a sustainable vision, the potential for demolition threatens this community landmark.
Muscowequan Residential School – Lestock, SK
Why it matters:
Of the almost two dozen residential schools that operated in Saskatchewan, Muscowequan – operating from 1889-1997 – is one of the last remaining. The imposing three-storey brick building which now stands on the site was erected in 1931, after the previous building burned to the ground. The school had a profoundly traumatic impact on generations of Indigenous peoples in the Qu’Appelle Valley and beyond. It is a wide-spread belief amongst local Indigenous communities that the former school should be preserved as a site of memory and conscience for all Canadians.
Why it’s endangered:
Abandoned since 1997, the school is deteriorating and evidence of its dark history is being lost. The Muskowekwan First Nation – on whose land it now sits – does not have funding to implement its vision for a museum and site of memory in the rehabilitated school. The First Nation recently received a grant to board up the vast building’s windows, but vandalism and deterioration continues.
A. Minchau Blacksmith Shop – Edmonton
Why it matters:
Built in 1925, this one-storey brick industrial building is one of a rapidly dwindling number of boomtown structures in Old Strathcona, a historic district experiencing unprecedented development pressure. The threat of its demolition has spurred a groundswell of support for the modest building, and a city-wide discussion on the need to save the unsung places that make Edmonton special.
Why it’s endangered:
As of May 2018, the City of Edmonton is considering the owner’s request for a demolition permit. City officials negotiated unsuccessfully with the owner for three years to try to incorporate the building into a new development on the site, zoned in 1987 for up to 12 storeys. The City has been hampered by the Alberta Historic Resources Act, which, unlike legislation in most other provinces, requires municipalities to compensate owners for lost development value when it proceeds with heritage designation without the owner’s consent. The City has limited funds to incentivize heritage rehabilitation. There is an urgent need for provincial and federal incentives to encourage heritage projects of this magnitude.
Manie Opera Society – Lethbridge
Why it matters:
Built around 1907, the Manie Opera Society (also known as the Kwong On Lung Building) is the oldest building in downtown Lethbridge’s Chinatown district and has served as a grocery, household goods store, and restaurant. The two-storey, flat roofed, stucco commercial building speaks to Chinese emigration to southern Alberta in the 1880s and 1890s and the once thriving Chinese Canadian commercial neighbourhood. The Manie Opera Society was designated as a municipal historic resource in 2014.
Why it’s endangered:
In 2013, the City of Lethbridge declared the Manie Opera Society structurally unsafe following a heavy rain. The current owner – son of the original builder/owner and also owner of the historic Bow On Tong Building (1919) next door – does not have the funds to repair the building and is reluctant to sell. The “Save Chinatown Lethbridge” community group, Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone, and other community voices, have been actively trying to bring attention to and find a rehabilitation solution for this exceptional and imperiled heritage property.
Hangar 11 – Edmonton
Why it matters:
Built in 1942, Hangar 11 is one of only two remaining Second World War-era hangars built through partnership with the US Air Force at the former Blatchford Field (later Municipal Airport) near downtown Edmonton. It is part of the Northwest Staging Route, which was a series of airports developed to assist the Lend-Lease program during World War II. The Edmonton airfield helped move thousands of American bombers, fighters and transport planes though Edmonton to Alaska and finally to Russia, in what become a crucial program in the Allied war effort. Apart from Hangar 14 (a Provincial and Municipal Historic Resource and now home to the Alberta Aviation Museum), Hangar 11 is the only remaining aircraft building on the former airfield, one of the most significant cultural landscapes in the Edmonton area. Hangar 11 is listed on the City’s Inventory of Historic Resources, but is not protected by formal designation.
Why it’s endangered:
Edmonton City Council has approved the redevelopment of the overall Blatchford Field site to accommodate 30,000 people and create a model “sustainable” community. The City Centre Airport was formally closed in 2014 and the adjoining hangars expropriated, paving the way for the redevelopment. The objective is to redevelop the site, and according to current planning documents, the retention of Hangar 11 is not being contemplated. Hangar 8, another 1942 hangar immediately next to Hangar 11, was torn down in 2016. A similar fate awaits Hangar 11. The Edmonton Historic Board and the Edmonton Heritage Council have expressed their concerns.
Former Carnegie Library and City of Winnipeg Archives – Winnipeg
Why it matters:
Built in 1903 with funds from US philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, this imposing classical style limestone building was Winnipeg’s first fully functioning public library. For decades, the library had some of the highest circulation in Canada, and was designated a heritage site in 1984. It ceased to function as a library in 1994 and then became home to the City of Winnipeg Archives.
Why it’s endangered:
Closed in 2010 for construction and upgrades, a torrential June 2013 rainstorm tore the roof off the building and damaged the archival records. The Archives subsequently relocated to a temporary home in an industrial park. Four years later, the former Carnegie Library remains empty and in limbo with no funds allocated by the City for restoration, and an active search is underway for a new long-term home for the Archives.
Looking to see the rest? Visit https://nationaltrustcanada.ca/what-we-offer/endangered-places
At City Council on Monday, Sept. 26, the pilot project for laneway suites was approved. Heritage Regina presented on behalf of 2990 Albert Street, the Hill Coach House. Read the presentation.
Heritage Regina made a presentation to City Council on July 26, recommending that an application to develop a four-storey apartment complex at Elphinstone St. and 13th Ave. be denied. At the end of a marathon session of public presentations, the majority of city councillors agreed.
“Projects like these should not be rubber stamped because it brings development and money into the city,” Robert Hubick told councillors, speaking on behalf of Heritage Regina.
Heritage Regina’s presentation expressed concern that the building’s proposed height and massing were out of scale to the neighbourhood’s historic streetscape.
“The Cathedral Neighbourhood has a distinctive character and an identity and a sense of place; buildings which are designed and located in the public realm contribute to a better neighbourhood experience,” said Hubick. “Development should be controlled and show sensitivity to the neighbourhood and to the people who live and work in it.”
An earlier compromise proposal from the Cathedral Area Community Association to reduce the building’s size and surface parking needs had been rejected by the developer.
Heritage Regina also questioned the developer’s statement that an adjacent house to be torn down for the project was irreparable, noting that most Cathedral Area homes require regular upkeep of their foundations.
“In the majority of cases, the homeowners replace, brace or fix them. Is it the city’s position that all houses with basement problems in the Cathedral area be bulldozed?” Hubick asked.
In total, 19 presentations were heard from individual residents, the developer’s consultants, the Ecole Connaught Community School Council, the Protect Cathedral Group, and the Cathedral Area Community Association, with the majority speaking against the project as proposed.
CACA president Theresa Walter voiced neighbours’ concerns about loss of backyard privacy and sunshine, increased traffic, and having a “large, square box” at an entryway to the neighbourhood. She urged Council not to set a precedent that would open the door to large-scale commercial development in zoned residential areas.
Further, she said CACA could not support “the tearing down of good family sized housing stock for a parking lot.”
After hearing all the delegations, Councillors voted to accept the Planning Commission’s recommendation and deny the development. The meeting wrapped up just after midnight, at 12:12 a.m.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season we pause to consider the year about to close and the one soon to come.
Heritage Regina marked considerable achievements in 2015, which will be detailed in upcoming newsletters that are the beginning of the new services suggested by you our members. These changes all reflect our vision, which is to cultivate appreciation of Regina’s heritage and its significance to the cultural legacy of our community.
None of this of course could be accomplished without you. Your support enables your Board to sound your voice in the community so that Regina’s heritage continues to be celebrated.
On behalf of the Board, may I express gratitude for your support and the hope that the gifts gathered around your Christmas tree include good health, happiness and the celebration of your personal heritage.
Regina Bomb Shelters
Regina’s Forgotten History
When Nathaniel Bowen was a child, he’d explore the bomb shelter in his Old Lakeview backyard. As an adult, it still scares him. “I still feel the same way when I go down there now,” said Bowen, whose parents have lived in the house his entire life. The bomb shelter was there when they bought the place. “I’m just afraid the gremlin’s going to jump around the corner and eat me because it’s so creepy,” added Bowen. “You take each step down there with such trepidation, because it’s this black hole and you don’t know what’s around the corner.”
Eight steps down a usually barricaded staircase, there’s a red metal door. Five more steps and six inches of moussey mud is the base of a 200-square-foot room. It’s dank and pitch black, but spending two hours inside feels “pretty normal” to Julie Mushynsky. She has spent a lot of time in dark, dusty, cockroach-ridden caves doing archeological PhD research on the Western Pacific island of Saipan.
Last weekend, after Google had led her to the bunker in Gail and Ted Bowen’s backyard, Mushynsky surveyed the place. Made of concrete and steel, it’s plain and relatively massive. Shine a light on the eight-foot-high walls and the only decoration is a pencildrawn profile of a horse.
“It’s a big bomb shelter. I didn’t really expect that to exist in Regina,” said Mushynsky.
Her first local bomb shelter visit – also in Lakeview – was in May. She learned about the “big cellar” in the basement of a Leopold Crescent residence in the tag line of a Leader-Post article. It was an eye-opener; she had never considered that there were bomb shelters in her hometown.
So began a side project researching Regina bomb shelters. That’s on top of her PhD work through
Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, where a colleague had studied local bomb shelters.
“It wasn’t really expected that Adelaide would get attacked during World War 2, but they still have these elaborately built bomb shelters,” said Mushynsky. Similarly, she added, “Why were people in Regina – pretty distant from the centre of conflict and unlikely to be bombed – what made people decide to create these shelters?” She hopes to glean more information from people’s memories. So far, she can speculate these structures “would be expensive to build,” so wealthy people may have been more likely to have them.
Mushynsky doesn’t know if they were Second World War constructions by people fearful of German air raids, or products of the Cold War in preparation for a nuclear holocaust.
James Pitsula says there was widespread fear during both eras. “It was in the news all the time; there was kind of this dangerous situation that people would obviously be afraid of,” said Pitsula, a long-time University of Regina history professor, now retired.
Pitsula was a 12-year-old in Nipawin during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He remembers the clickety-clack of a reel-to-reel projector as a film instructed his young classmates what to do in the event a nuclear bomb was dropped.
“I remember going home and telling my parents about this film and wondering what was going to happen,” said Pitsula.
Bowen was 10 when the Cold War ended. I remember going to school and seeing the posters about how much money was being spent on nuclear weapons and how precarious the situation was,” said Bowen. Having a bomb shelter at home was not a comfort. “(It) almost made me more afraid,” he said. “You go down there and you see the construction; you see the work and the craftsmanship that went into making it. You know whoever built it must have been very, very afraid that one day he would use it.”
Mushynsky is hoping to view any and all bomb shelters in Regina. If you have one, email juliemushynsky@gmail. com.
Walter Hill Carriage House
The Carriage house was built in 1911 at the same time the house was being constructed for Walter Hill. Both were designed by the short lived association of the architects Clemesha and Coltman. Mr. Hill’s affinity for agriculture may have inspired the construction of the carriage house. It housed a flock of chickens, horses, grain storage, two bays for carriage storage, and an ice house. Above on the top floor there was a small suite heated by a wood stove and a generous hay loft. The suite was said to have housed the gardener and his wife, the laundress. This is one of the last three carriage houses in Regina, the last to exist in its original state. Its presence offers a glimpse into the history of early Regina when the line between urban and rural living was quite blurred. The house was one of the most prominent properties when built on Albert Street and to this day attracts attention as an example of Jacobean architecture it has been stated that Mrs. Hill fell in love with this style of architecture during a visit to England and had the plans for her new house on Albert street drawn up one quarter scale to replicate this style. The Carriage house at the back of the property is an example of English Arts and Crafts style that become popular in north American during the late 1800`s. This building has deteriorated over the years due to obsolescence. Animals and feed storage are not required nor is a large ice house. Fortunately over the years the building has been tarped by Mr. Michel for preservation while alternate uses were being investigated. The carriage house, along with the main house and grounds, was designated as a Municipal Heritage Property in August of 1992 by its owners at that time Wilfred and Heather Meagher. Saving the carriage house takes a lot of work and perseverance, and the present owners Joe Michel and Tammy Kwan are taking the necessary steps to do that.
Summer Walking Tours 2015
Heritage Regina hosted five summer walks in 2015 and more than 128 walkers participated. The walks ranged from retracing the path of the tornado of 1912, a stroll around Wascana Lake, a walk around old Lakeview, exploring the historic McNab Neighbourhood, to discovering the almost lost footpaths of old Regina College.
Every year there is a surprise on the tour and the summer of 2015 was no exception. On the walk near Government House the group was shown an early frame house on a pie-shaped lot that seems likely to be the original home of James Watt – gardener to the Lieutenant Governor and his family in the late 19th century. Finding this house seemed to make all of the stories about James Watt and excerpts from his diary real and tangible and was a thrilling discovery for the walking tour group.
As organizer of the walks I would like to convey my deep appreciation and thanks on behalf of Heritage Regina to Jackie Schmidt, Will Chabun, Hazel Whippler, Amanda Girardin and Jeanie Mah , all of whom led walks. It is only when we explore on foot and hear the stories of real people who lived and worked in our city not so long ago that we gain a deeper appreciation for our history and where we’ve come from.
Heritage Regina is planning another summer of walks in 2016 so let us know if there are particular areas of the city you would like to explore on foot.
Events and Other Stuff
- Heritage Week takes place the week of February 15th, 2016. Heritage Regina will once again be hosting a special event to celebrate Regina’s History. Stay tunes for more information on guest speaker and location.
- Heritage Regina will be holding their AGM in April, please plan on attending. Date and location TBD.
- A tour of Chicago and Frank Lloyd Wright architecture will be taking place May 19 -24, 2016 hosted by John and Janet Robinson. For more information contact Robinson Residential.
- Membership contact Heritage Regina at Heritage Regina P.O. Box 581 Regina, SK S4P 3A3