Save Stratford’s Heritage and Environment

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Stratford is not just the home of the Stratford Festival and Justin Bieber, but is one of the most charming cities in South Western Ontario, with a vibrant history dating back to the 1820s. 

Our city’s economy benefits from the hundreds of thousands of visitors who are attracted to the city’s rich cultural heritage from all around the world, generating $140 million in economic activity, $65 million in taxes and 3,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Yet most people are shocked to discover that there are few protections in place to stop Stratford’s heritage areas from being demolished by developers.

The National Geographic called Stratford “the type of walkable wholesome town Rodgers and Hammerstein might write a musical about" and thousands of tourists take the heritage walking tours each year to appreciate the century-old homes, mature trees and magnificent architecture.

One of the heritage walks recommended by the City takes you down Daly Avenue, in the heart of Stratford’s heritage area.  However, what tourists will see now is a gaping hole on one side of the street where a developer has demolished century homes, cut down 20 mature trees and submitted plans to construct an entire subdivision of semis and duplexes.

It’s shocking that a city so loved and world famous for its culture and heritage has no binding protections for heritage preservation of residential neighbourhoods within its heritage area.  This means there is currently nothing to prevent developers acquiring and demolishing entire blocks, along with dozens of mature trees, purely for profit and against the wishes of local residents.

From an environmental perspective, it is hugely wasteful to destroy houses and rebuild them, when retrofitting and restoring them to their full glory is far more efficient.

We request that Stratford City Council urgently initiates a heritage conservation district study under the Ontario Heritage Act for the Hamlet Ward heritage area.  This will be a start. 

We also request that approval for any subdivision applications be put on hold while the study is completed and that any demolitions or new constructions in the heritage area should require a heritage permit.

The city has just declared a climate emergency in Stratford and we believe that Council must take similar proactive measures to preserve the city’s heritage before it’s too late.

If you live in Stratford, please join the movement to protect our city’s beautiful heritage and the environment by signing and sharing this petition!