By David F. Rooney
As with so many things in our culture, you can’t stand still — you have to maintain your momentum even when it comes to heritage preservation.
That’s one of the reasons why the Heritage Commission is holding a special Heritage Values Workshop this Saturday, says commission Chairman Mike Dragani.
“We don’t want to lose our momentum,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.
“We’re hoping to develop a buy-in from the public at this workshop.”
He particularly hopes many of the new people in town will attend the free, 9 am – 3:30 pm workshop at the Community Centre. (Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday. Refreshments and a light lunch will be provided.)
It has been 15 or 20 years since the commission last sponsored a workshop like this. Out of that long-ago workshop and the efforts of volunteers like the late Helen Hammond and Ruby Knobbs, the community began acquiring a new respect for their urban landscape and the history and cultural heritage it embodied. That is, in part, why Revelstoke looks the way it does today.
Commission members have come and gone over the years and though Dragani has always been part of it, he believes a new workshop dedicated to “heritage values” will greatly assist commission members and — perhaps even more importantly — members of the general public.
“We’ve finished a lot of the goals we’d set back then,” Dragani said, referring to programs like the Heritage Awards, the Heritage Register, the Heritage Conservation Area and the proposed Heritage Maintenance Standards Bylaw. (Please click here to read about the proposed bylaw.)
But lately it seems as though a certain amount of the heritage-promoting oomph has been sucked out of the community. As Dragani puts it, “it’s like we have to get from nowhere to somewhere.”
“Heritage is one of those things that quickly becomes nothing if nobody cares,” he said.
Maintaining a certain level of public interest in preserving our physical heritage requires commitment and, above all, work to keep it in front of the public as an issue of consequence. Lose that and it won’t be that long before heritage values are eroded.
It helps, of course, when someone comes along and builds a lovely “in-character” infill project like Steve Platt’s graceful little building at Orton Avenue and Second Street East. More projects like that would be a great addition to Revelstoke but no one wants to transform our city “into some kind of Disneyland theme park,” Dragani said.
How we arrive at a new appreciation of heritage values will be assisted by Judith Cook and Carla Jack of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations’ Heritage Branch.
“Hopefully they will help us focus our energy on what’s important,” Dragani said.