Crescent Park and Greenfield Street in Petrolia could soon be designated as a district of cultural heritage value under the Ontario Heritage Act.
According to the Ministry of Culture “districts are areas whose cultural heritage value contributes to a sense of place extending beyond their individual buildings, structures and landscapes.”
Locally, Oil Springs and Enniskillen Township have gained the recognition through the act as the Oil Heritage District. Bayfield and Downtown Goderich are also examples of areas with a heritage designation.
The two adjacent Petrolia neighbourhood contain some of the oldest original homes in town and have long been recognized as unique. But the Petrolia Heritage Committee has been working over the years to document just how important the homes are.
“There has been quite a bit of research in the area; we’ve documented each property,” says Martin Dillon, chair of the committee. He expects the town will have submitted all the necessary documents for the province to declare the neighbourhoods as districts of cultural and historic value.
“The designation would cover Greenfield Street and Crescent Park,” Dillon says. “Everyone who goes through there says it is like stepping back in time.”
“We want to conserve the area…We’re trying to sell the town as a tourist area and a Victorian Oil town, there has to be something for people to see. We are fortunate to have so much preserved.”
Once the province has approved the designation, it would be up to the town to pass a bylaw to back it up. Dillon says it would allow the town and its heritage committee a chance to look at any significant alterations to buildings in the area.
“It affords us enough time to review and consider the changes,” he says. “It doesn’t thwart development.
“We would urge people to build…architecturally more consistently with the neighbourhood.
“We want it to be consistent with the other facades…using modern materials to still reflect the façade is not a bad thing.”