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Few apply for big pot of Delta funding

Heritage Conservation Fund draws little interest
heritage fund
Built in 1931, the Wallace Residence on Grove Avenue got a $15,000 grant from the fund last year for roof repair. City of Delta report

Created two years ago, it’s a pot of available rennovation money that has steadily grown, but few Delta property owners have been interested accessing it.

Council on Monday approved several changes to the Heritage Conservation Fund program in the hope getting more owners of heritage properties to apply.

It was created to provide money to complete renovation works that preserve and protect their buildings’ heritage characteristics.

Money in the fund comes from a levy that’s applied to all new building permits.

The current fund balance is $325,400.

Applications were on a first-come, first-served basis for a maximum of 50 per cent of the capital cost of projects. The maximum any property owner could obtain in a single year is $15,000.

A staff report outlined several challenges for the program including a requirement for those receiving funding to also put their heritage buildings on the city’s Heritage Register, as well as sign restrictive covenant to protect their building from demolition for a period of 10 years.

A staff report notes there’s confusion about the register as inclusion in it does not provide formal protections.

Property owners also expressed frustration with the processing time and execution requirements.

Staff recommended streamlining the process as well as reducing the number of cost estimates required for restoration projects.

Some of the other changes include increasing the maximum annual financial assistance from $15,000 to $30,000.

The city will also try to better advertise the program.

Meanwhile, staff are currently reviewing options for adjusting the levy or broadening the potential uses of the funding.