Smart cities are turning to heritage protection as a means to retain diverse, sustainable neighbourhoods, to reduce stress on landfills, to generate economic activity, and to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Neighbourhoods that contain a mix of older, smaller buildings generate greater levels economic and social activity than areas dominated by new, larger buildings.
It is also good for retaining affordable housing. In Ward 3, many older homes are being bought by developers for demolition. They are invariably replaced by large, high-priced new homes that are beyond the budget of Ward 3’s eclectic mix of residents, including students, artists, and low income families. For example, when the Watchler Residence was removed from the Heritage Holding Bylaw list, it was replaced with a new home that the owner estimated would be in the $700,000 price range. When this trend continues unchecked, socio-economic diversity and access to affordability housing suffer.
Heritage protection is also good for the environment. Using life cycle cost analysis, researchers found that even if a new home is 30% more energy efficient than its replacement, it takes between 28 to 50 years to offset the carbon impact of new construction. In the case of large public buildings, the offset range increases to up to 80 years. A retrofitted home or public building can affordably achieve the same energy efficiencies through retrofitting without this added carbon footprint. Demolitionalso adds waste to limited landfill space.
There are also economic impacts attached to heritage preservation. Renovations and restoration creates good jobs in our city.
If elected I will advocate for heritage protection, including expanding the city’s restoration incentives and explore the expansion of Downtown Regina’s designated heritage to include the Cathedral and Heritage neighbourhoods. This will encourage additional attention to and support for heritage preservation as a first option over demolition and new construction. In addition, The City of Regina should restore the function of the Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee, and respect its mandate to expertly assess heritage value. We also need to implement policies that factor in the environmental costs of demolition, including an analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions and landfill use.