Sunday, April 16, 2006

Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's …

… and demand handouts! From the London Free Press:

London's oldest church has finally been officially designated a heritage site.

St. Paul's Cathedral, rebuilt in 1846 after fire razed it two years earlier, will be commemorated after tomorrow's 11 a.m. service, its rector says.

"St. Paul's has certainly been a heritage property in the minds and hearts of many people for many years," said Very Rev. Terry Dance, "but now, the city has made it official."
Exactly… so why replace heritage in the minds and hearts of people with a compulsory obligation that invests municipal and provincial law with even more legal control over the property? It's impolite to be cynical about a church's motives, but given that the cathedral is the church's signature property in London and it would never likely have any reason or desire to dramatically alter the structure of the building and invite the legal incursions that heritage laws permit, could the church be prospecting for artificial financial advantages from municipally-run heritage grant and tax relief programs?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nothing so sinsier as you seem to think. First off, we've been trying for *years* to get St. Paul's and many other sites posted with heritage designation. People seem to have very short memories in this city. *Every* major heritage building in this city - including the old Court House, the Armouries, Banting House, and more, have all at some point in time come litterally within inches of the wrecker's ball. London, Ontario, in my personal opinion, is the kind of city where if the Great Pyramids of Giza were built here, the average citizen would be content to see them torn down and replaced with a temporary parking lot if it means cheaper downtown parking.

Also, the real reason many sites are now considering heritage designation is protection FROM the goverment. Give you an example - for arguement's sake, the city ever wanted to widen Queen's Ave or Richmond Street (for the record, they do not - this is just an example in theory only), then the expropriation process would hit rough ground once they hit a heritage property.

One last thought - the Western Fair association is a non-profit entity, and as such, will be entitled to some various tax breaks due to that status. I am not sure if those tax breaks extend to or include the slots and horses, but on principle, if an organization that is hosting on it's grounds leagalized gambling can be possibly entitled tax considerations - then in either legal, ethical or moral standards, why not give a church a break for heritage designation? More power to them if they can, IMO.

joe

MapMaster said...

In a sense, Joe, you're probably right about one thing — there's likely nothing more sinister about St. Paul's designation than gullible fools thinking, "hey, plaques are cool."

Your argument about using heritage designation to protect property from the government is intriguing, and there may be a certain merit to that in the eyes of some property owners. But that certainly wouldn't be the case for the historic part of St. Paul's which is set well back from both streets. And it's hardly the argument that is cited by legislators or heritage advocates — and every wailing I've ever come across in London about historic buildings are in response to threats from private development.

Who are this "we" that have "been trying for *years* to get St. Paul's and many other sites posted with heritage designation"? This banal appropriation of every Londoner is so commonly applied by every progressive advocacy group to imply a collective consensus where they think one ought to exist that it barely gains attention anymore. Unless you are one of the more honest ones and directly implicate yourself but not necessarily others in the attempt to expropriate property that does not belong to you (to be clear, I'm not talking about the title to the property itself but the meaningful right to use property as one sees fit that the title ought to suggest). Either way, in cases cited as rationalizations for heritage laws, such as you suggest, the owner is certainly not part of the "we" — what logical premise do you suggest for letting the "we" supercede the property owner?

Last, the responsibility attached for the church or any owner to seek grants or tax relief based on heritage designation or any other status rests most of all on the government that plays these games to curry favour for its dirigiste schemes. Hey, I don't get any tax breaks for my status as an undesignated Londoner with or without regard to any legal, ethical or moral standard! Will you stand up for me when I claim my special status immunity? Or will that depend on whether it serves the interests of the "we"?

bonnie abzug said...

Anonymous, I'm afraid I'm with Mapmaster on this. Anyone who can use the adjective "dirigiste" as often as he does, without snickering, clearly has substance.

MapMaster said...

Much obliged, Bonnie. "Dirigiste" is my favourite word these days, being so evocative and so, well, essential, and it's all part of my plan to get to the top of search engine queries for "dirigiste", you know.