Schneider Haus expansion could come at expense of heritage homes
Ryan Flanagan, CTV Kitchener
Published Friday, July 7, 2017 11:59AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 7, 2017 1:41PM EDT
Plans to expand a heritage property in Kitchener could mean demolition for two heritage homes.
Regional planners want to expand the grounds of Schneider Haus, formerly known as Joseph Schneider Haus, on Queen Street.
To do that, they propose getting rid of two neighbouring homes. Those homes were built in the 1920s, have been owned by the region for nearly 30 years and are currently vacant.
The homes are in Kitchener’s Victoria Park heritage district, which means their demolition is officially discouraged.
If demolition does go ahead, the Schneider Haus property would be extended to Schneider Avenue. The new space would be used for a garden and greenspace to allow additional programming.
“The plans for the new space are to really bring back the appropriate context for a Mennonite farmhouse,” says Kate Hagerman, the region’s cultural heritage supervisor.
Regional officials say the homes would require significant renovations to be rentable.
Local heritage advocates have taken issue with the plan, saying the region could have done more to get value out of the homes.
Kitchener Coun. Frank Etherington says the region would be better off selling the homes than demolishing them, arguing that allowing the homes to be demolished could set a precedent for other buildings with heritage value in the area.
“That precedent could involve any developer who buys one or more homes in the Victoria Park neighbourhood and announces he or she wants to flatten the properties and build something else,” he wrote in a blog post.
Schneider Haus is the oldest building still standing in Kitchener. It was constructed in 1816, and became a museum in 1981.
The region has a public survey on the issue open until July 23.