As plans are taking shape to redevelop the former Kellogg's plant and McCormick-Beta Brands property in east London, a heritage advocate is looking to broaden the definition of heritage buildings.

Old churches, Victorian-era homes and locations where historic events took place are what Londoners have  traditionally identified as heritage buildings.  

A spotlight will be cast on east London's industrial history next week by heritage author and advocate Benjamin Vazquez.

“These are buildings, which in the heritage community, we've overlooked for many years. So much of what we are doing is merely playing catch up,” he says.

Vazquez will present his report to the London Advisory Committee on Heritage, calling for greater preservation of industrial buildings in east London.

One of his recommendations is preserving the Former McCormick-Beta Brand’s smokestack.

“I could draw parallels to things like Chicago's water tower that are retained simply as landmarks and help define the neighbourhoods they are a part of.”

The area bears no resemblance to London's other heritage conservation districts that have focussed on Victorian residential neighbourhoods, such as Wortley Village. 

Vazquez believes the industrial neighbourhood he's dubbed the “smokestack district” deserves similar protection.

Buildings inside a heritage district receive certain protections before a major structural change or demolition.

But not everyone agrees.

Jim Hartman of Hartman's Auto Repair on Dundas Street East says the area is industrial. “A lot of the buildings around here…are worn out.”

If the report gains traction next Wedneday with the advisory committee, Londoners will have to consider how they define heritage.