Heritage process begins for Bayview Yards

The future is bright for Bayview?yards. File photo by Andrea Tomkins
Exterior view of Bayview Yards

Kitchissippi is one step closer to another heritage designation. One day after council voted to approve the designation of Broadview Public School, the Built Heritage Sub-Committee began the process to designate the Bayview Yards building at 7 Bayview for heritage status.

Heritage planner Lesley Collins says the building, formerly a part of Mechanicsville’s burgeoning industrial sector in the 1940s, fits well into the city’s criteria for heritage protection.

“The heritage designation program is meant to celebrate and recognize buildings of importance in the city’s history,” she says. “It’s an important example of industrial heritage in the city of Ottawa.”

The future is bright for Bayview Yards as well. Last year, the city announced it would become the site of a new Innovation Centre — a hub for entrepreneurs and start-ups to incubate their business ideas. The plans for the Centre include a 99-year lease of the property and construction of an adjacent 12-storey tower.

In a report prepared for council and the sub-committee, Coun. Jeff Leiper described the designation and the impending development as “old meets new.” He’s excited by the potential that can come from bringing economic purpose to a cultural space.
“This building is going to be a really inspiring place to do some great economic development work. I think it’s a fantastic model for us to take a look at as we consider adaptive reuse of other heritage buildings in the city,” he says.

Collins doesn’t foresee a heritage designation conflicting with the Innovation Centre. She has been in regular contact with city developers to make sure the space maintains its history.

“Plans for the Innovation Centre will reflect the importance of the heritage character of the building, and that has been incorporated into the plans a lot.”

The potential heritage designation has been a long-time coming. It began nearly 20 years ago, when Linda Hoad of the Hintonburg Community Association started petitioning the city to not only designate the site, but to maintain its condition. The historic building had fallen into a state of disrepair.

Demolition-by-neglect, she says, was a real possibility for losing the building. The city’s hesitation to designate the property was frustrating.

“We just kept on, at regular intervals, you know whenever it seemed appropriate, sending letters. The city just kept saying ‘it’s too soon, it’s too soon.’”

Hoad says that she’s happy to see an adaptive reuse of the site emerge. It could mean the city has an effective direction for heritage designations.

“They’ve finally got their head around the idea that heritage buildings are good for tourism, heritage, and innovation,” she says.

The heritage designation and the Innovation Centre development now proceed in tandem. The designation heads next to Planning Committee, and then to council for final approval by the end of April. Proposals are still underway for the Centre, and will be narrowed down by early May.

Once a proposal is selected, a public meeting will be held for community feedback on the design. Coun. Leiper notes his door is always open for residents who would like to discuss the heritage designation or the proposed development.

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