To my fellow Cambridge Residents,

The Galt core is steeped in history and great period architecture unlike anything else in Waterloo Region. Its charm is not lost on those who live and visit this picturesque riverside downtown.  Some buildings of heritage value like City Hall, McDougall Cottage and the currently underway Post Office revitalization have received significant public investments to preserve them indefinitely.  However, the overall fabric of a true heritage district relies on private sector investment in it’s buildings.  Unfortunately, over the years many buildings in the Galt core have fallen into a state of disrepair and eroded because the economics of a private sector investment in that real estate fails. Think of great heritage cities like Boston, Philadelphia and even areas of Montreal and Toronto.  They all share something in common that has lead to private sector investment in heritage preservation – economic success.  A Heritage Preservation Strategy is entirely tied to an Economic Development Strategy if it is to be done by the private sector and not through public tax dollars.  If a core is vibrant and successful with people and commerce, the demand for real estate is high, values rise and needed investments in heritage buildings are made by their private owners.  No different than a glorious Church needing a strong congregation to ensure its architecture is everlasting.  We are going to continue to put the heritage of Galt at risk if we don’t generate economic success in downtown.

As President of HIP Developments and having spent my 39 years in Cambridge I assure you we know and value the Southworks site.  I remember as a young boy, Southworks being saved from the wrecking ball by John Wright (and his partners) and transformed into a successful retail outlet.  That private sector investment saved the industrial heritage of the site but its ability to continue to do so was challenged in recent years by changing retail preferences.  It was no longer viable in its current form and its owner began considering options for the next chapter.  We are very fortunate he chose HIP Developments as the steward he trusted to continue its legacy as one of the most important economic centres in all of Galt.  The Gaslight District continues to honour that legacy through the creation of a vibrant mixed use neighbourhood that will become a driving force of economic success in downtown Galt, just like the Goldie & McCulloch Company once was on the site.

Further, after millions have been invested in their preservation and redevelopment we will voluntarily designate the buildings as Heritage Buildings; ensuring they become a permanent showcase of our industrial past. A magnificent heritage showpiece in the heart of the Gaslight District open to residents and visitors alike.  These historic stone buildings will frame a one acre open space home to musicians, artist and community events.  I can think of no better way to showcase our built history than to engage with it in a new pedestrian only public square.

Let us be judged by the facts, our intentions and our actions on Heritage Preservation in the Gaslight District and not by the spread of fear from naysayers who simply judge others while investing little to advance our great City so that future generations may prosper in it.  We are wholeheartedly committed to preserving and featuring the history of this important site; but we are equally committed to injecting needed investment and activity in Galt so the entire downtown prospers and with that its heritage legacy preserved forever.

Scott Higgins
President, HIP Developments
The Cambridge Times