Russell’s council had been due to pass a bylaw that would approve the creation of the heritage conservation district in the village core at last Tuesday’s meeting. But the final vote was delayed until mid-May after a petition opposed to the district was delivered to the township.
If approved, the district would cover the “old village” core of Russell, and would include both residential and commercial areas on both sides of the Castor River. According to a proposal document, the district’s creation would help with “protecting key views, streetscapes and first impressions when entering this part of the village”.
The petition called for an additional in-person public meeting to “allow taxpayers within and adjacent to the proposed area to voice any objections” and claimed many residents were not aware of the plan until November last year.
The council opted instead to postpone the third reading of the bylaw, and to send letters to all affected houses in the area. The letters would inform the residents of the plans, and provided contact details to raise any concerns.
About eight instances of public consultation, through letters, notifications, and public hearings have been held since 2018, when the planning department recommended council proceed with the heritage conservation district study. The issue continued to generate interest at the council meeting on Tuesday. Councillors and staff spend about half an hour answering questions from residents in a dedicated question period on the topic.
In an online message to residents following the meeting, mayor Pierre Leroux encouraged those concerned to read the district document, and to provide feedback on ways it could be improved. “Council is really looking for feedback on how to improve the document itself,” he said. “We’re looking to preserve the heritage aspect in the village of Russell for future generations, so it’s worthwhile having that conversation.”