BY KELLY ROCHE
The City of Mississauga has no process when it comes to naming heritage properties.
So admitted council last Wednesday, when south-end residents were speaking about the proposed renaming of the Holcim Waterfront Estate, a heritage site owned by the city.
“This is not like a new build, like Hershey Centre,” said Lorne Park resident Cameron McCuaig, a member of the heritage advisory committee.
“These are heritage buildings, districts, cultural landscapes, where the name is intrinsic to the location, not only for us, but also for future generations.”
The property at the centre of the debate is formerly known as Bell-Gairdner Estate, near the Oakville border.
Holcim Canada, the Lakeshore Rd. W. building material and construction company, was granted naming rights in 2013 in a deal with the city.
An estimated $4 million went into restoring the mansion.
Holcim began rebranding last August after changing its name to CRH Canada Group following a global merger in 2014, and the company is looking to rename the mansion CRH Waterfront Estate.
Details of a July 2013 sponsorship agreement between the city and Holcim are confidential.
A corporate report from city staff, dated Nov. 10, 2015, was recommending council waive the 30-day notice requirement for the re-naming process.
The 30-day period is standard for gathering public input.
Carly Herbert knows the property well from her days at Clarkson Secondary School.
“It was just an abandoned mansion forever, and people just always used to come and, you know, enjoy their time, run away from the cops many times,” said Herbert, laughing.
Now she’s getting married there this summer.
“So it’s sentimental,” said Herbert.
She said she’d originally planned a destination wedding then heard the mansion had been revitalized.
“It’s beautiful too … they did a really nice job,” she said.
Herbert was surprised to hear of a name change.
“Holcim Waterfront Estate sounds better than CRH,” said Herbert.
Her mother, Gerrie Herbert, agreed.
“It’s recognizable,” she said.
“I like that name. It sounds better than just initials.”
McCuaig and Jonathan Giggs from the Mississauga South Historical Society made separate deputations asking council to defer the naming process until a full report was received by staff.
“If there is a better name out there, let’s get it,” said Giggs, acknowledging the company has been an asset to the community.
McCuaig said names matter.
“Sponsorship of heritage sites also matter and are welcomed, however, in my view, sponsorship should support the heritage brand and never replace it,” said McCuaig.
But one resident begged to differ.
“The fact is, CRH is a great corporate neighbour,” said Clarkson resident Sue Shanly, who said she was speaking on behalf of four ratepayers’ associations.
Shanly, defeated by Ward 2 Coun. Karen Ras in the Oct. 2014 municipal election, added “they have done nothing but give to our community.”
Shanly listed projects CRH has been involved in, including Lakeside Park, painting the Clarkson Community Centre, cleaning up Rattray Marsh, and supporting Credit Valley Conservation.
If it wasn’t for CRH, Shanly said, “there wouldn’t be a waterfront estate … it would still be a crumbling building, likely. ”
“I feel like we’re messing with the good guys,” said Ras, adding the company is doing all the right things with all the right intentions.
IN THE MIDDLE
Ras said there was opportunity for residents to come before council in 2013, instead of now, in the middle of a contract.
“We’ve already struck a deal with a company that’s made a long-term commitment to the community, which is good for the city,” said Ras.
McCuaig said they’re missing the point — heritage properties shouldn’t be for sale; sponsorship agreements and the naming of properties don’t go before the heritage advisory committee.
CRH Canada has agreed to cover all city-related costs pertaining to the name change at the estate, including the main facility sign, way-finding street signage, and promotional signage.
Ras said CRH is also including Harding House, the property’s main building, and Coach House on the main sign, “but in terms of the sponsorship and the contractual agreement, it will be the CRH Waterfront Estate.”
The city and CRH will be finalizing details regarding the name change before the matter returns to council.