Saturday, May 21, 2022

In Support of Red Brick


Hello. My husband of 37 years who is my high school sweetheart had a family farm in Heathcote. Our teenage weekends entailed visiting with family at the farm and running into the vibrant town of Meaford back in the day. We always appreciated the quiet and majestic scenery and as such have chosen beautiful Meaford to live in.

Geographically, Meaford is uniquely located as the region has an abundance of natural stone and beautiful red clay materials. That is why the history of Meaford and red brick is so visible locally throughout the downtown and neighbouring houses. The Knights Industrial facility located on prime land was also built with locally produced beautiful red bricks. In understanding the concerns of the local residents, including myself who has a house directly across from this new development, the townspeople spoke loudly with respect to the long-term vision of this important waterfront project. Being private lands and the town having to follow the Provincial Policy Statement it is inevitable that this development will proceed. In the original presentation, the renderings truly captured the history of Meaford through using red brick and it displayed that Skydev was aware of what a quality build entailed. This was a project in which a developer was actually looking at using sustainable, environmental, durable building materials in place of slapping up what was quick and cheap. Having cut back one of the apartments and reconfigured it to the side of the project was a step in the right direction.

However, the most recent submission provided by the town is seriously concerning. Instead of a beautiful, sustainable, historical warm earthy building façade as portrayed in submissions 1 the third submission has been reduced to a sea of white siding. The Knights Harbour development will create 206 housing units along the Meaford waterfront, when fully complete over 500 residents will call Meaford home. The proposed density of this project should lead both the town and the developer to consider the building materials which will be outwardly facing on this project. As we are all well aware the weather patterns in Meaford are dictated by Georgian Bay, these patterns, especially in the winter, can be harsh and extreme. This underscores the importance of ensuring that important developments such as Knights Harbour be durable and resilient. There is a reason downtown Meaford is built in all brick. In fact, many towns across Ontario in the early 1900s put in ordinances that demanded brick due to devastating fires that spread quickly. Why someone would voice “not red brick again” is perhaps someone that doesn’t fully understand the environmental and sustainable attributes of our building materials and is looking for perhaps a pretty painting rather than a viable resilient and sustainable community.

In addition to the safety concerns associated with the use of siding in a densely populated area, the town should also take into consideration the long-term climate impact of siding materials. In November of 2019, the Town of Meaford declared a climate emergency. This declaration indicated that the Town of Meaford is experiencing more extreme weather events due to the climate crisis, and it must take legitimate steps to reduce the impact the town has on local eco-systems and the climate. Siding is a vinyl product with an effective service life of twenty years, at the end of this service life siding makes its way into a landfill. In essence, to build with siding is to be cladding our buildings with single use plastic. Contrary to siding, masonry materials such as brick and stone have a full life-cycle of 80-100 years and are fully recyclable at the end of their service life. Furthermore, masonry materials provide buildings with thermal mass which not only drastically reduces HVAC loads for buildings but also ensures that in the event of a prolonged power outage buildings remain liveable for a longer period of time. As the Town continues to see the worsening impacts of the climate crisis it is critical that major developments are built with resiliency in mind.

Meaford’s most important natural asset is its beautiful waterfront. The magic of Georgian Bay is well known across Canada. The town has a unique opportunity to develop a waterfront which will be cherished by residents and visitors alike for generations to come. However, this requires the town and the developer to build to a standard that ensures that Knights Harbour will remain beautiful, vibrant and in touch with the character of the town of Meaford. There is no need to resort to inferior building materials and create a development that is completely out of character of the town’s built-up area. Brick and stone can easily incorporate modern and contemporary designs for the non-historians – but a siding subdivision should 100% not be acceptable at the expense of the people living in this community. We should not copy many builder trends seen in the blue mountain ski villages – we are Meaford!

Ask your local fire department on their preference in building materials. Ask your local builders what their personal homes are built of. Please Meaford – if we are going to build – let’s at least build it for the future and look to long term in a design that captures the true historical essence of our community to be enjoyed by future generations.

Thank you

Judy Pryma, Meaford


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