The Town of New Tecumseth has launched a Heritage Conservation District study for downtown Beeton. Its purpose: to see if designation is warranted, desirable, and supported by the community.

The area under assessment is bound by Dayfoot Street to the west, Prospect Street to the north, Patterson Street to the east and Main Street to the south. In the study phase, a character analysis and evaluation of the study area will determine if the area functions as a cohesive whole, where the sum is more significant than individual parts and is considered appropriate for protection as a Heritage Conservation District.

The boundary is based on a number of criteria, such as: historical and visual factors, physical features, and legal or planning factors. If merited, a proposal for designation will be presented to municipal council.

So far, a consultant team from Archeological Services Inc. (ASI) and SGL Planning and Design have met with property owners on Oct. 26 and Nov. 30 to discuss what designation would mean to them. A public information workshop was also held on Nov. 23, so residents could learn about the project.

“This is a very exciting opportunity to recognize and enhance Beeton’s beauty and charm,” says Shira Harrison McIntyre, New Tecumseth Councillor and Heritage Advisory Committee chairperson. “A commercial heritage district becomes a tourist destination, which positivity impacts on all the businesses. I think we are sitting on a gold mine.”

She cites, “being only an hour from the city, the Tottenham steam train and all the charming restaurants and shops,” as pluses for the village.

In other municipalities, designation assessments have seen benefits including: providing a community with an opportunity to recognize and commemorate its unique “sense of place;” increased tourism; as well as being an attractive place to do business.

The essential benefit of heritage district designation is ensuring that future developments, renovations and restorations are complementary to the character of the district. It’s a way to preserve our heritage for generations to come.

Once a heritage conservation district designation bylaw is approved, property owners in the district will need a permit from the municipality for any alteration that’s not considered minor, as well as any demolition or new construction.

“Heritage districts direct new builds so that they complement the existing community,” Harrison McIntyre told Simcoe Review.

You can still have your say. A survey is available online until Jan. 6.

For more information, log on to the New Tecumseth website.

Map courtesy of the Town of New Tecumseth