June 25, 2015 - 8:00 PM
PENTICTON - Seeking grassroots input into what is historically important, rather than relying on historical experts' opinions, is at the heart of the regional district’s heritage program.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen continues work on the Regional Heritage Strategic Plan following a director’s workshop at a board meeting earlier this month.
Public consultations were completed in May 2013, which was followed by consultants interviews with local historians and archivists, RDOS Rural Projects Coordinator Lindsay Bourque says. She says the plan is ready for endorsement by the board, which will be presented to them at the July 16 board meeting.
Bourque says the workshop’s goal was to familiarize new directors with the heritage strategy and engage them 'at the same level as the public.'
She says heritage preservation is becoming increasingly based on a 'values-based management model' rather than having the province make a heritage designation to a site that may not have historical significance to the community at large, as has happened in the past.
The purpose of the strategy is to find out at the community level what regional heritage priorities are, noting those that were popular and of interest to local residents often already had stewardship groups maintaining and taking care of the heritage resources. She says such groups provided great partnering opportunities for the regional district, who work with these groups to market the site and build interest.
Bourque says the regional district will soon be releasing an interactive map outlining heritage sites in the region. She says heritage sites and cycling opportunities in the regional district are complimentary in many cases, presenting enhanced tourism opportunities for both locals and visitors.
“We’re always looking for those types of synergies, so going forward with the trails marketing and master plan, incorporating the historical information as well will provide more opportunities for both,” she says.
The regional district’s heritage strategy only serves as a recognition program and makes no provision for protection of heritage sites.
“There’s no legislative protection, it’s just for awareness, promotion and education services,” she says.
Getting a site designated heritage by the province will require such recognition as an initial step, but Bourque notes the province is demonstrating increasing reluctance to designate such sites and funding continues to dwindle. Currently the only provincially designated site in the regional district is Keremeos’ Grist Mill.
Bourque says it isn’t a long term goal of the regional district to create provincially designated heritage sites, noting rather the region’s interest in preserving landscapes and historic trails.
"We want to promote these as points of interest, primarily,” she says.
Bourque also says municipalities have different legislation available to them including the ability to provide incentives to homeowners to have their properties designated.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015