While many church congregations are shrinking or struggling financially, Weston Park Baptist Church is placing its faith in development plans that aim to revitalize its property in the west-end Toronto neighbourhood.
“Our vision formulated [in] 2005,” says church deacon John Frogley-Rawson. “It’s a nice piece of land, and we have developed [a plan] for the property and the community.”
It’s worth reading, because it shows how a development should be done: with community consultation and assent. It also includes much on the fate of churches, and how they will be reused and redeveloped in a secular age.
The city will be looking at part of Weston to determine whether it has a unique character, and whether is should be recommended for conservation and enhancement. The WHCD will be having a meeting on August 21 to discuss the new areas and next steps.
The effort to create heritage districts in Weston has been going on for quite a long time. It started in 2004, and the first phase was completed in 2007, with the creation of a conservation district in two areas around Weston Road.
Phase Two was to include the area between Rosemount, Pine, Church, and MacDonald.
Now, however, the city has taken over planning of conservation districts, instead of leaving it in the hands of community groups. The WHCD says that the city is “ready to proceed with the study of the Weston Heritage Conservation District, Phase II, with the intention to go by the old boundary to Elm Street.“¹
Heritage conservation districts are “historically or culturally significant and require special care and attention in the planning process to ensure that they are conserved.”
A heritage designation limits what people can do with their properties. Construction and restoration must be done with neighbourhood guidelines, and demolition is not allowed under most circumstances—including by neglect.
¹ My emphasis. Also, full disclosure, I live just past Elm Street.