Evidence of meeting #74 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was buildings.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Julian Smith  Director, Centre for Cultural Landscape, Willowbank, As an Individual
Chris Wiebe  Manager, Heritage Policy and Government Relations, National Trust for Canada, As an Individual
Karen Aird  President, Indigenous Heritage Circle
Madeleine Redfern  Director, Indigenous Heritage Circle

September 28th, 2017 / 8:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair (Mrs. Deborah Schulte (King—Vaughan, Lib.)) Liberal Deb Schulte

We'll get started

Welcome to our guests. We'll do a proper official welcome in a minute, but I have some very quick technical things that I think we should get out of the way first.

I don't know where Mark is, but he should be coming soon. I want to welcome Geng Tan, Julie Dabrusin, and Robert Kitchen to the committee today and thank them for joining us.

I want to remind people that we have moved the meeting next Tuesday, because the commissioner is doing her reports relevant to the committee. I'll be leading that in the morning; hopefully, you can all join me. She has very good topic headings for the reports, which I think will be of great interest to us.

On that point, I think it's important that we have an opportunity to have the commissioner come in front of us. We didn't for her last reports, because we had a very aggressive schedule to try to get the report done before we broke for the summer. I want to make sure we have that chance.

Is there any disagreement to have the commissioner come before us as we're in that period of report writing? We're back in our ridings for a week, after next week, after our testimony is all heard. The analysts will be report writing. Then they will need a week for translation. I thought that the following week we would have the commissioner come. We will see what date she's available on one of those two days.

Do I have any disagreement that this is a good way to go forward for the committee? Do I need a motion, or can we just agree that she comes in that week? We'll work out with her what will work for her.

Okay? I think that would be great. So we've got that. That's good.

The meeting on Tuesday has been moved. We booked 11 o'clock to 1 o'clock, and we booked 3:30 to 5:30. I think the 11 to 1 slot wasn't going to work for some of you, but I think the 3:30 to 5:30 slot was available for everybody.

Just confirm that, please, and then we can make sure that we take the other booking off. You don't need to do it right now; I'll just reconfirm at the end of the meeting that we're good, and we'll pick that time that I'm looking for—I think 3:30 on October 3.

Did she give us a date...?

Oh, we may have a problem. But I'll talk to her and see what we can do.

I think that was the only technical detail I needed to make sure we got cleared before the weekend.

I'd like to formally introduce the guests with us today. We have Julian Smith, director of the Centre for Cultural Landscape at Willowbank; Chris Biebe, manager, heritage policy and government relations at the National Trust for Canada; and Karen Aird, president, and Madeleine Redfern, director, of Indigenous Heritage Circle.

Thanks to all of you for being here today.

We have Julian Smith's presentation already up here, so I thought we might start with that. If you're all right with that, we'll proceed.

I would just remind people that I use two cards. When you get to within a minute of your time, I'll hold up a yellow card—I just don't like to interrupt—and that way you'll get a sense of where you are with your time, because we don't have a clock behind us. When I hold up the red card, I don't mean for you to just stop what you're saying, but I do mean for you to wrap up your point because you've run out of time.

Thank you so much.

Please start.

8:50 a.m.

Julian Smith Director, Centre for Cultural Landscape, Willowbank, As an Individual

Thank you very much, Madam Chair. It's an honour to be here.

I'm going to start with some images. The reason I use images is that I sometimes have a hard time explaining how much the field of heritage conservation has changed in the time I've been involved with it, which is now about 50 years.

Here is a drawing of the 1950s. The modernist movement was in full swing. This is when I grew up. This is a modern building and a modern floor plan. But this also shows the hierarchies that existed between blue collar and white collar; between elementary school, high school, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.; the legal system, with yes-no answers to questions; and all kinds of hierarchies that existed. There were the ideas of the nuclear family, the suburb, the prohibition in the U.S. against racial intermarriage, concerns about gay and lesbian couples, and so on.

This next image illustrates the 1960s, when you began to get grassroots movements, both on the left.... I'm using the yellow for the environmental field. People began to protest the loss of wetlands, and the use of DDT. There was Rachel Carson on the heritage side. On the blue side there was Jane Jacobs and The Death and Life of Great American Cities. It was the beginning, again, of a grassroots cultural heritage protection movement. Both environmental heritage and cultural heritage were very grassroots. They didn't fit the system; there were outsiders. This was coming, as I say, from communities.

Next is the 1970s and 1980s. This brings the introduction of heritage legislation and environmental legislation in all the provinces. Those two fields, the environment field and the heritage field, became part of the system. With the laws in place, you began to have lawyers who specialized in environmental law and in heritage law. You began to have B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. programs in environment and in cultural heritage. There was the idea of joining the system and becoming part of these boxes, shown here.

The boxes really also represent the university and the academic system, which classifies knowledge into disciplines and categorizes books in libraries; and also the museum world, which is all about objects and classifying and putting them into systems.

Next comes development in the 1990s, the idea of cultural landscapes, which really was a concern to UNESCO with the World Heritage List. They didn't know how to deal with sites that were important, both from a natural heritage point of view and a cultural heritage point of view. Cultural landscape ideas were about the relationship of people and the natural environment and about human habitat and a more holistic way. They didn't fit the model very well. I think first nations communities began to be much more a part of the conversation about heritage generally, and for them, this nature-culture distinction had always been a problem.

The idea of cultural landscapes really pushed the boundaries and pushed us, as I show in this next image, to I would say the 21st century. I spend all day with 20- and 30-year-olds at Willowbank, where I teach and where I've been the executive director for the last 10 years. This image shows a program for young people interested in questions of human habitat.

I'm going to stop there. I'll leave that image up.

I have some observations. I would say that young people are interested in this kind of ecological and more holistic approach to human habitat. They want to get over the culture-nature distinction, which is so Eurocentric and which has been such a barrier to coming to terms with sustainability. They want planning, development, and design approaches that respect traditional knowledge and existing patterns, and within those, to figure out how you add contemporary layers and levels without simply erasing everything that's there and starting over again.

They want to shift from a utopian view of the world, which is always about monocultures, to a more organic way of development that is more about diversity. They want to knit back together working with hands and working with the mind and overcoming this distinction between design and build, between blue collar and white collar, between intellectual activity...and also between apprenticeship and academic ways of learning. Not only are these people interested in this, but they're demanding it, because they see an urgency to coming to terms with questions of sustainability.

In terms of my observations or offerings to the committee, I would say a couple of things. I want to make reference to Bill C-323, which, in the slides, is back here. This is really a chance for Canada to catch up to where most other countries moved in the nineties, of saying, “We recognize built heritage as being fundamental.”

I would make two observations about it. One is that I would hope the emphasis, if there are tax credits, is on income-producing properties. Among the concerns that have been raised about somebody owning a beautiful historic home in Westmount or Rockcliffe or Shaughnessy or whatever is whether they should be getting a tax credit for work on that house. The idea that the U.S. adopted, that it should be for income-producing properties, has put the focus on tax credits for the rehabilitation of commercial buildings, of main streets in little towns, of urban neighbourhoods, abandoned industrial places. What the statistics show pretty clearly...and we recently completed a study for the UN Habitat Conference in Quito on the North American situation in terms of culture, heritage, and sustainability. Older districts with these older buildings have a richer texture to them. They provide 30% to 40% more employment per square metre of building, they have more minority owners, they have more women owners, they have more young people, they have more age diversity, they are more walkable neighbourhoods, and they have more public transit. These are areas that we need to understand and deal with, and there needs to be encouragement for doing so. It's in income-producing properties that you get the real swings in urban areas that are either going to allow places to continue to exist or not.

The other point I would make is that if you look at the American situation, since they've had so many years—and I'm sure you've heard the statistics about tax credits—you see that those tax credits generate so much other tax revenue. There are very few tax credit programs that have been so productive—seven to ten times the amount of private investment.

There are related things. Federal accommodation should happen in existing buildings, unless there aren't existing buildings available. Federal programs that support seniors housing and low-income housing should prefer existing buildings unless there are none available. This is something the U.S. has been doing for 40 years.

When I practised, very early in my career I was down in the U.S., in Massachusetts. If you wanted to do low-income housing, you had to look for old schools or old abandoned industrial buildings, because they tended to be in downtown areas with good public transit. When I came to Ontario, land value was a key component. In the first project we did, the developer moved the project at the last minute to a farmer's field, because it was cheap land and allowed them to meet the budget. These were low-income people out in the middle of nowhere without transportation.

With these other programs, the national building code needs to be adapted for existing buildings. There are many government initiatives. The environmental assessment process could knit together the culture and nature part of it, and it should be called a sustainability assessment. Unfortunately, when people think of the environment, they think of the natural environment and not the cultural part of it.

At the more general level, if we go to this other image, which is not just about historic buildings, I think we need to engage Canadians, particularly young Canadians, on the question of more sustainable human habitats.

This shows a start. ICOMOS advises UNESCO on cultural heritage, and IUCN on natural heritage. Parks Canada needs to engage in that nature-culture dialogue in a really important way, because Canada is looked at as being a potential leader in the world in this field, and yet we have national historic sites and we have national parks that tend to be two solitudes, as is the case in much of society.

That engagement has to be shared with the non-profit sector. The non-profit sector, when I was growing up, was almost irrelevant—sort of cookie sales, and hat held out to get donations. The non-profit sector has grown remarkably. I've worked part time in the academic sector, the public sector, and the private sector, and in my view the non-profit sector has become a much more important actor in this whole thing.

I think there should be consideration of an agency of the federal government that deals with urban and rural development, partly so that the federal government can connect to municipalities, to townships, to villages, to reserves, to places in which the innovation is happening. This has to be gathered on a national scale in order for Canada to contribute to the dialogue that's happening around the world, which is really a critical dialogue about sustainability. We have to integrate some of the programs with Canadian Heritage, Parks Canada, and Environment Canada so that we deal holistically with the heritage field and with the confluences that these pieces have together.

I'll stop there. I think it's an amazing time. I think we're in a period of transition. If you look at government departments, agencies, and programs, I think they reflect this image. I think we need to move to this one.

Thank you.

9 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much. That's great.

Chris, would you like to go next?

9 a.m.

Chris Wiebe Manager, Heritage Policy and Government Relations, National Trust for Canada, As an Individual

Sure.

Thank you very much for this opportunity, and thank you for your interest in historic places. The heritage field is diverse, with different ownership circumstances, and the threats and potential solutions are various. I can see that you are grappling with the question of where the federal government can make the greatest difference.

This morning I want to hone in on two areas that haven't really been explored as much in these hearings. Those are commercial heritage properties and properties owned by charities and non-profits. To assist, I have provided a handout detailing some of the existing incentives, and I'll refer to that throughout my presentation.

There are 440,000 pre-1960 commercial buildings in Canada. If we assume that about 5% to 15% of these could potentially be of heritage interest, there would be 22,000 to 66,000 buildings in this class across Canada. This is a substantial group of community-defining buildings on Canada's main streets.

But why do they need incentives in the first place? What are the disincentives that hamper their survival? First let me run through a few of them. Return on investment: heritage rehabilitation is often considered risky because there are unknowns, unlike for construction on bare ground. Construction costs: while some heritage rehabilitation projects cost less, others cost more, and then these ambiguities serve to suppress demand. Then there's financing. The big banks for the most part do not want to be involved in “staged” investments and are not prepared for the risks that come with adapting older buildings. There's some discussion around rural areas, in that they will not invest in older buildings in smaller communities at all. The fourth reason is lack of ease of property development. Investors are often discouraged by real or perceived restrictions on altering heritage properties. Fifth, there is the current federal tax system itself, which presents problems, including the inability to get a clear explanation from tax officials about which types of rehabilitation work are immediately expensable in a given tax year and which must be capitalized. There are also new-construction biases within the GST rules themselves.

So are there good examples of places where incentives have tipped the balance away from these disincentives? As Julian and others have mentioned, in the United States there has been a booming and competitive industry over the past 40 years because of the establishment of federal tax credits there for the rehabilitation of heritage buildings at a 20% level. This program stimulates private investment in abandoned and underperforming properties. Over the years, $24 billion in credits have generated more than $28 billion in federal tax revenue, and leveraged $131 billion in private investment, an impressive number. This is a 5:1 ratio of private investment to tax credits, and it has created 2.5 million jobs and preserved 42,000 historic properties.

It's important to note that there has been tremendous rural impact from this program over the past 15 years. Over 40% of U.S. tax credit projects are located in communities with populations of less than 25,000.

If you refer to the chart I provided, the one with the five circles on it, you can see that the larger projects typically have a limited ratio of incentives available as a result of caps on programs. I've chosen the $2.2 million level for a commercial project because that was the average cost of the CHPIF, commercial heritage properties incentive fund, projects back in the mid-2000s.

By comparison, have a look at the pie on the right; with all three levels of government in the United States contributing, the picture is very different. Federal tax credits of 20% can be stacked with state credits for a combined 40% to 45%. You should note that 34 states out of the 50 have these stackable credits.

My consultation across the country has shown that it is on these larger projects, those of two and a half million dollars and things of that nature, that a tax credit is needed. For example, the Farnam Block on Broadway Avenue in Saskatoon was demolished in 2015. Repair costs were estimated at $700,000. The city was able to bring forward only $150,000, and the building came down. Or take something like the Calgary Brewing and Malting site, which is sort of like the Distillery District in Toronto in the making. It's languishing for lack of a substantial incentive to give it some velocity.

What can the federal government do? Essentially there are only two mechanisms for the federal government to intervene in the commercial property market, and those are income tax measures or grants and contributions. You've heard about the CHPIF fund and its success as a pilot program for a tax credit program. Analysis by Deloitte and Ernst & Young concluded that refundable tax credits would be more effective than would a grant program. A refundable tax credit offers a number of advantages to the private sector that a contribution program does not. It offers predictability and timeliness. Contribution programs often require more than double the time for approvals on the front end. It leverages existing familiarity with the tax system, creating investor confidence. It also offers flexibility: it works well for large or small projects.

Understandably, the potential cost of implementing a tax credit has been raised at this committee. Deloitte's analysis of the estimated cost of a historic rehabilitation tax credit in Canada found that, far from being a cost to government, these tax credits for commercial properties would create net revenue growth from corporate income tax, GST, and additional personal income tax stemming from new employment.

When we model for a universe of 22,000 commercial properties, we see that these tax credits cost $3.8 million in year two and $55 million in year five. However, these credits generate net revenue growth of $3.4 million in year two, rising to $14 million by year five. The modelling for a universe of 66,000 commercial properties follows a similar trajectory. For broader impact, the government could consider extending a rehabilitation tax credit to heritage homeowners, like that introduced by Bill C-323.

Let's shift quickly to not-for-profit and residential buildings. Tens of thousands of heritage buildings in Canada would not benefit from a tax-based measure because they are not used for revenue-producing purposes. Such heritage buildings include places of worship, historic house museums, and former residential schools.

If you look at the other side of my handout, with the three circles on it, you'll see a sample of incentives from a number of cities. Let me remind you that each of these shows the best-case scenario for grants or tax breaks, but these are often limited by annual budgets for granting programs, such as in Nanaimo, where there is a limited amount every year, and in Halifax, where there is the same situation. We wanted to be fair, so we wanted to have the best possible scenario there.

At current levels, these incentives are not game-changing or behaviour-changing. We are hearing that they are helping already-willing owners but not pushing others. You will notice that the federal government is missing from this incentives picture, and there is no dedicated fund for places outside of the national cost-sharing program for historic places, as these are only for national historic sites, including heritage railway stations and lighthouses.

Competition for mainstream federal funding is fierce. For example, the Canada 150 community infrastructure program requires not-for-profits with modest heritage projects to compete with those with projects for arenas, pools, and sports fields. Earlier this year, FedDev's website reported 1,100 applications, requesting more than $260 million in funding, for their first intake—almost six times more than the available funding. It's a difficult environment for heritage places to get heard in.

Here are the two things the federal government can do to ameliorate the situation for non-profit buildings. The first is to create a source of federal matching funds to leverage investment by other governments. Corporations and individuals could actually help encourage this kind of philanthropy. Funding could be distributed using modern approaches like crowdfunding, which is currently being used successfully by places like National Trust for Canada under the banner of This Place Matters. Over the past three years, the trust's investment of $300,000 has leveraged over $1.1 million in donations for heritage sites. Similarly, Save America's Treasures was a decade-long program in the United States that invested $318 million in federal funds to leverage $400 million from private sources, resulting in the preservation of 1,200 important historic structures and 16,000 jobs. There are also Canadian precedents for using federal matching funds in this way, including the Department of Canadian Heritage's existing matching donations program, which is restricted to endowment matching and for which only arts organizations are eligible, or the government's response to Syrian refugees or disasters and crises.

The second thing the government could do is to provide steady increased funding for the national cost-sharing program for heritage places. I think this has been mentioned on other occasions. The available funding has ranged from zero dollars for some years to as little as $1 million for other years. The current $10 million per year for this year and next year is an important piece of the puzzle, but there are more than 700 properties eligible, and many have been underfunded for decades, so $10 million per year is really a drop in the bucket. The program is already heavily oversubscribed, as Parks Canada mentioned the other day. By contrast, the Canada cultural spaces fund recently received $84 million a year for two years, so there's an order of magnitude there.

In summary, we would recommend the following. First, we would recommend implementation of a federal heritage rehabilitation tax incentive, such as the measures recently proposed in Bill C-323. That is a proven way to attract private and corporate investment to privately owned historic places and to give them vibrant new uses. Two, the government could consider extending a rehabilitation tax credit to heritage homeowners to get more impact. Three, federal investment in seed funding for creative financing mechanisms like crowdfunding could help many more charities and not-for-profits attract private donations and would save and renew some of the thousands of other heritage buildings that make up the fabric of our communities. Finally, an increase in federal cost-shared funding available for the national historic sites heritage places program would help turn the tide of neglect for these important national icons as well.

Thank you very much.

9:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much.

Sorry to rush you along there. You had lots to share.

Welcome, Karen Aird and Madeleine. I don't know who wants to go first.

9:10 a.m.

Karen Aird President, Indigenous Heritage Circle

I'll go first. I'll talk briefly, and then Madeleine will. Thanks.

My name is Karen Aird. I just want to say tansi. Thank you for inviting us to be here today.

I'm here on behalf of the Indigenous Heritage Circle, which is an organization that Madeleine and I work with. It's a non-profit national organization. It's the only indigenous-led and -designed organization for heritage in Canada. We started it in 2013, and we incorporated in 2016. It's been on a volunteer basis. We've been working nationally to try to create recognition and inclusion for indigenous heritage at the national level. We've had round tables in Ottawa and in Vancouver, and we're really trying to create a space, an opportunity, for indigenous people to actually have their issues, their concerns, and recognition of their heritage included provincially and nationally. When I talk about indigenous heritage, I'm talking quite globally, because for every indigenous group it means many, many different things.

I know for my people—I'm from Saulteau First Nations—Mamahtawin represents a place that we sit that's sacred, and that's how we define indigenous heritage. But for many indigenous groups, it can mean intangible things like laws, stories, and oral histories. It can mean places that may have no physical objects but that are sacred, where people go for ceremonies. It can be artifacts that many of you see in museums. It can be even things like intellectual properties that are passed: our stories, our songs, our totem poles. Those are all just some of the many things that represent indigenous heritage.

Madeleine and I have been working nationally trying to get a voice and recognition for indigenous heritage, because often it's brought forward only during resource development. Often when they have to do environmental assessments, they will see the need to do what we call traditional use studies. Those traditional use studies do not address most of our concerns, and neither do they deal with protection or long-term preservation of our heritage.

We feel that in this time, this time of reconciliation, this time when we see a new change in government, there's a need for people to start thinking differently about heritage, and moving it beyond built heritage, and thinking about how indigenous people perceive it and how we want to protect it. We do have our own mechanisms. We do have our own methods and approaches to protecting and interpreting heritage, and we feel it's really time now for indigenous people to have a voice in this.

I'm going to leave it to Madeleine to talk some more about our work.

9:10 a.m.

Madeleine Redfern Director, Indigenous Heritage Circle

Thank you.

I was listening keenly to what Julian and Chris had to say. I absolutely do appreciate and respect their views, but the more I listened, it spoke to me about how indigenous heritage is simply not part of most of the conversations. It is very focused, as Karen said, on the built environment. I'm listening to the proposals for tax credits and the value of having systems that protect heritage sites, and while I understand and appreciate that it is important, it does not include our indigenous realities. It is not set up; we're almost having two different conversations, or a conversation that I can almost tell you, even if my Inuit national president was here, or the other indigenous leaders at the local, regional, or national level, they would be saying, this is not actually the conversation that we want to be having with respect to how we proceed in even having acknowledgement of what, as Karen explained, is heritage for us.

The systems that are in place are not set up for our communities to actually access. We do not meet the criteria. The tax credit system is beyond what we are able to access in being able to not only have our heritage sites recognized but protected in the way we want. As Karen indicated, it's often brought up in a developmental context, and even then it focuses usually only on archaeology. If there are some sort of traditional burial grounds or some sacred sites, they're to be preserved. But outside of that, everything that we know we need....

Julian was showing the slide of the 1950s. We're not on that slide; we're not in those boxes. It predates the 1950s. There's a mindset, and it's challenging to begin to expand: how do we have ourselves included? Not even in an existing system that we find ourselves that we don't fit in; how do we create a parallel system or integrate those systems that allow indigenous communities across this wonderful nation to be able to have the resources, outside of a development project, to actually begin to have national funds that allow us to begin to have our sites or our practices designated, recognized, and financially supported?

Those were the main sentiments I wanted to express after listening to Chris and Julian.

Is there anything you want to add, Karen?

9:15 a.m.

President, Indigenous Heritage Circle

Karen Aird

Yes.

We've been working on this since 2013, and we've been doing it all through volunteering. We've had to get funding wherever we can through different supports for these round tables. It's incredibly informative. When we met in Ottawa and in Vancouver, and we had indigenous groups come, they showed up. People really wanted to have the space to talk about this, and they wanted an opportunity to see change. There is a real need for an organization, whether it's the IHC or another. We've been working on this for a long time, but I'm saying there's a need for a voice and a place for people to have a voice.

At these round tables, it was clear that there was a strong disconnect between our first nations communities and accessing funding or accessing support, just even knowing who to contact. There's a big gap in these relationships and I don't see it changing any time soon. People need to start really thinking outside the box about how we're going to approach this differently. I think it has to be through an indigenous-led and indigenous-designed organization.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much for that.

All of you have brought different aspects to the table for us to consider, and I know we're going to get into the questioning. We are open, and we're very honoured to have you here. We are listening, and we want to hear your advice on how we can help make it better.

We'll start with Mr. Aldag.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Thank you to each of the witnesses who spoke this morning. We have a very diverse panel, and the perspectives that each of you have brought are really useful as we try to sort out how to move forward on this heritage question and how the federal government engages in heritage conservation.

I'd like to start with you, Ms. Aird and Ms. Redfern. I think we have this huge opportunity and this huge challenge related to indigenous heritage. As you say, the existing structures are very colonial and do not reflect indigenous heritage and values. The written brief you gave us was really useful. I've read it a couple of times, and it raises a lot of the issues.

I'd like to start with some of the solutions as to how to move forward, and you've touched on some of them. One of your solutions is to have an indigenous-led organization. We can always put money into resourcing organizations, but then what does that actually lead to? Do you have a sense of what success would look like if we were able to have an indigenous-led organization? What happens after that?

The heritage field was very much my career prior to politics. There are some examples that have led to protection of heritage; our cultural landscapes are examples. In the south, in developed areas, that becomes a bit more challenging. What does success look like to you?

9:20 a.m.

Director, Indigenous Heritage Circle

Madeleine Redfern

We have, absolutely, initially tried to work with Heritage Trust, Canadian Heritage, and Parks Canada. To give them credit, they recognized the value. I think everyone was incredibly surprised that no national indigenous heritage organization exists. That's one thing. When we went to our respective national indigenous organizations, they were very supportive, but this doesn't fit within their mandate. When we researched the history and the creation of the National Trust, it was interesting, because a huge endowment was provided. I recognize the value of their work, but if you actually look at it, very little indigenous work has been done through that vehicle.

When I look at what our organization could do with regard to the outcomes, in the absence of a national indigenous heritage body, it's very difficult for the federal government departments—not just Canadian Heritage and Parks Canada but other departments, truth be told—with regard to anything that has to do with development. Who do they go to? How do they help? Who do they connect with, and how do they ensure that the right conversations are being had? How do we develop that system?

Where we see the value of this organization is in helping to facilitate those conversations internally within our peoples and communities across the land. We cannot do that from the top down. A lot of capacity development has to occur even within our communities. Equally, we've seen the immense value and need to also educate the local, provincial, territorial, and national governments. How do we achieve reconciliation? With culture and heritage, as Julian said, you have to look at it more holistically. It's not something you can box into simply one department or even one sector. There are so many interconnections in this area. We saw ourselves as a coordinating, facilitating, and educating body. We are not the be-all and end-all, but we're there to support.

Is there anything you want to add, Karen?

9:20 a.m.

President, Indigenous Heritage Circle

Karen Aird

When we're talking about what we see ourselves as, this is through two round tables. We had hoped to do round tables across Canada but we sort of stepped back because we all have working lives and this has been a volunteer effort. The two round tables really informed us and told us that there was a need for almost a clearing house, where people could come to access information, to learn about grants and about who to talk to, from both the indigenous side and the government side.

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Thank you.

How much time do I have, Chair?

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

You have less than a minute.

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Chris, did you have experience with the commercial heritage properties incentive fund? It was a pilot in the early 2000s, as you mentioned, and it was discontinued. I've been trying to dig around and find out why that was. I don't know if you have any thoughts. Was that a program that provided some useful lessons, or were there shortcomings that you are able to speak to? Any thoughts on the old CHPIF program would be appreciated.

9:25 a.m.

Manager, Heritage Policy and Government Relations, National Trust for Canada, As an Individual

Chris Wiebe

Actually, I'm not sure why it was concluded, but it was successful. I think there were 49 projects involved, and as I think Julian mentioned, they had leveraged eight times more in private investment, of $177 million. It was trying to test the appetite and the impact that a federal incentive could have. There were a lot of lessons learned there in terms of its ability to attract municipal and provincial money, and obviously private investment as well. It was a successful model, and it was supposed to make the leap into a tax credit after it had been analyzed by Deloitte and others, but that phase hasn't happened.

I'm hearing Madeleine and Karen, and I appreciate their thoughts. I think it's not an either-or situation. I don't think it's a zero-sum game where there is a focus on some things and not on others. As a country, we need to be expanding our vision on a number of different fronts, whether it's built environment, whether it's indigenous landscapes, or whether it's cultural landscapes. I think it's an opportunity to recognize the fact that there are different problems, and different solutions and tools for the tool kit will be needed.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much.

Mr. Fast.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Thank you.

I have a question for you, Mr. Wiebe. You were present when Mr. Berg-Dick gave testimony to the committee. He seemed to suggest that any tax incentive program at the federal level would necessarily mean a decline in revenues. So whether it's a grant program or a tax incentive-based program, there was still a similar effect either way. It was less government revenue for either programming.

You would not agree with that assessment, I assume.

9:25 a.m.

Manager, Heritage Policy and Government Relations, National Trust for Canada, As an Individual

Chris Wiebe

I can see where he and some of his analysis may be coming from. You could say that if you didn't incentivize certain kinds of work, this work would be happening otherwise, but the fact that it is revenue-neutral and that you're promoting a social and cultural good shows a place for the federal government to be involved in that.

In terms of the tax credit and its ability to leverage money, some of the analysis done by Deloitte immediately after the CHPIF program demonstrated that it wouldn't be a millstone around the public purse, that it would actually be generating new activity, maybe redirecting it through...from projects that may be more cookie-cutter, non-new construction projects. That's the new, more holistic vision for the management of our built environment that I think Julian is talking about as well.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

That's very helpful.

Mr. Smith, you suggested that the government focus on revenue-producing heritage properties. Is that right?

Mr. Wiebe, would you concur with that assessment that there should be a special emphasis on providing incentives for revenue-producing heritage properties?

9:25 a.m.

Manager, Heritage Policy and Government Relations, National Trust for Canada, As an Individual

Chris Wiebe

We conducted a study and talked a few years back with 27 property owners and developers across the country and got a really clear picture that what's missing is something that can leverage the existing incentives that are there at the provincial and municipal levels to strong effect. I'm thinking about places like Winnipeg with the Bay building and something of that order of magnitude, a huge iconic building right on Memorial Boulevard looking down toward the legislature. You're not going to get anywhere with a $50,000 grant from the city for that. You're not going to change any minds or change any decision-makers. There needs to be something up front that's dependable and predictable, so that people can say, “Okay, I know we can depend on a certain amount of funds to make this project around an iconic heritage building happen,” and it has to be on a scale that can have an impact.

If you look at examples like that across the country, there are many that could have that big advantage.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Smith, you heard Mr. Wiebe talk about stackable credits. You heard him talk about refundable tax credits. I assume you would support those kinds of incentives, at least for some of the built heritage we have across the country.

9:25 a.m.

Director, Centre for Cultural Landscape, Willowbank, As an Individual

Julian Smith

Yes, absolutely. Municipalities are important to understand, because that's where innovation happens in almost every area, and particularly in terms of human habitat. I mean, cities are on the front line. They are dealing with Canadians every day on a one-to-one basis, so I think the idea of municipal property tax rebates but also support grants....

I mean, they are trying everything, and I think we have to get the pulse of that. Municipal planners hardly ever get together across the country. They don't have any vehicle for that, and I think that's why the federal government has a role in collecting that collective wisdom.

I want to return to what Karen and Madeleine were talking about. I think the tax credit issue is critical. The heritage field in general is moving to a different place, where, I would say, it's not a question of whether indigenous cultural heritage has a place in the system. I think in some ways a group like the Indigenous Heritage Circle has to design the new system and then look at how things like tax credits fit into that.

That's what has happened at UNESCO, where there are three types of cultural landscapes: designed, which are like Versailles; evolved, which are agricultural areas in France and so on; and the third category of associative, which had almost no definition, which was for those first nations people who had this odd view of nature being significant. What has happened is that the associative cultural landscape category is actually the most fascinating, and I think it will eventually take over the other two. Versailles is really an associative cultural landscape. That's the critical thing.

Young people at Willowbank are realizing that they are looking to some of the indigenous understanding of cultural heritage as the base framework for how to look at the world. It's not simply incorporating those ideas into existing systems but changing the systems.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Wiebe, I'll go back to you. Can you drill down a little more into the stackable tax credits that you were referencing in your comments?

9:30 a.m.

Manager, Heritage Policy and Government Relations, National Trust for Canada, As an Individual

Chris Wiebe

They are available in 34 states in the U.S. They have found that the U.S. federal tax credit is not quite enough. For the same rehabilitation work, you can put them together and get 20% off and a 20% to 25% tax credit, on top of the 20% available federally for that rehabilitation work. That would give you at least a 40% or 45% income tax credit on that kind of work, which is extraordinarily compelling.

On our sheet here, you see the example we were modelling. It actually comes from Dallas in Texas. It makes up a very large portion of the cost of rehabilitation, and it makes it practical to go ahead.