News / Edmonton

'It helps tell the story': Plaque program puts spotlight on historical homes

Local association hoping to make more people appreciate Edmonton's vintage properties

Angela Brugger, Chair of Westmount Heritage Committee.

Kevin Tuong / for metro

Angela Brugger, Chair of Westmount Heritage Committee.

Angela Brugger wants the city to know the story of her neighbourhood.

She’s the chair of the Westmount History Committee who’s launching a plaque program to recognize the heritage of homes in the old neighbourhood. It’s based on a similar program in the Highlands community.

Much like Highlands, the Westmount neighbourhood dates back more than 100 years. The west central area still has vintage elements from the early 1900s with front verandas and sashed windows.

“Westmount has really great heritage and architectural heritage,” said Brugger. “That’s what a lot of people think about when they think of Westmount. But we don’t really do anything for our heritage in the neighbourhood.”

And that’s what Brugger is hoping to change.

Owners of area houses built before 1939 will be able to apply to have a plaque made especially for their property.

It will feature the house’s history including the year it was built and information on its first owners. The plaques will be placed on the exterior of character houses.

Unlike historic designation, the plaques won’t limit homeowners from changing the exterior of their homes.

“It’s optional,” explained Brugger. “It helps tell the story of the history of the neighbourhood.”

Brugger and the rest of the Westmount History Committee are currently seeking feedback from residents on how the plaques will look. If all goes as planned, the plaques will be installed in fall 2018.

But the plaques are just the beginning of the preservation Brugger is a part of. Rezoning is the bigger picture.

“We wanted to start with something easier, the rezoning is not easy.”

Currently, there are two streets in the neighbourhood with zoning denoting their significance. One is the ten blocks on 125 and 126 Street between 107 and 111 Avenue, collectively known as the Westmount Architectural Heritage Area.

The area boasts many craftsman and foursquare style homes and for 30 years it’s been under special zoning. The DC1 Zone outlines architectural guidelines but they are only voluntary. Exterior features, style and character of new developments aren’t restricted or enforced. But now the Westmount Community League is working with the city to make a formal rezoning application.

It will be a pilot project for other heritage areas in the city. The larger process is expected to finish up in early 2019.

In the meantime, Brugger is focused on the first step.

“These plaques, it’s one small thing, hopefully it promotes that there is value in these old houses.”

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