Much to my delight, a few days ago I received an email from the editor of the Lake Report asking me to resume writing this column. Not only do I enjoy penning the Arch-i-text (something I hope you find pleasure in reading), but the resumption of a “full” Lake Report is a sign that our society has left the confusion of March and April behind and is gradually finding a new workable normal for a world that has COVID in it.
Although the past few months have been fluid and rife with unknowns as governments, businesses and individuals negotiated the uncharted territory of a pandemic on Canadian soil, we have risen to the challenge, faced our “dark night,” and emerged with the seeds of a new, and I hope, clearer vision of the legacy we will leave our children.
Consider this simple example… When the COVID lockdown occurred I had just submitted the background/supporting documentation for a Heritage permit to restore the facade of a 1909 English Arts & Crafts house in the Yates Heritage District of St. Catharines. When I received notification that the City had postponed all Committee meetings until further notice, I could not help but respond. I posited to the Heritage Planner that while I understood the action, my concern for the financial health and well-being of the many small companies and their employees which depend on the smooth functioning of government could very well cause a disaster in the local economy.
I suggested that a shift to virtual meetings across the City was not only feasible, it was imperative. To my delight, not only did the Planner escalate this suggestion to her Director, that worthy engaged their I.T. folks to develop a solution. The net result? The following month Committees met via Zoom, permits were granted and business resumed. Here, I think, is the perfect illustration of what can be accomplished when cooperative effort is focussed on solutions that benefit all.
So, while there were (and still are) challenges in both my design/consulting and real estate practices, in each case we found, and are finding, work-arounds. Work continued on the restoration plans for an 1823 Regency home, a portico was designed for an 1819 Georgian, due diligence was successfully completed on a heritage property a client wished to acquire, amongst other things. And, I found that spending more time at home allowed me not only to complete the Historical Colour Chart for English Arts & Crafts that I’d had on the backburner for a year, but also (much to my wife’s delight) build the 28’ long pergola entrance to her garden.
I guess for me, living with COVID has not been too tough (though I still hate line-ups!). As the old saying goes, when you’re faced with lemons, make lemonade.
That said, over the next few weeks Arch-i-text will feature survivors of a different kind as we highlight some of Niagara’s heritage homes that predate the War of 1812. I hope you’ll enjoy discovering these venerable homes with me!