Residents with homes considered to be of historical value might be able to get funding from two levels of government to keep their homes in authentic condition.
On Monday city council passed a heritage management plan that will help govern both privately-owned and municipally-held buildings considered to be of historic importance.
Previous plans passed by council, including the 2004 heritage master plan and the 2010 heritage functional sites plan, are focused more on specific city-owned buildings like the grain elevators and river lots.
This new plan allows the owner of any home on the province’s and city’s register of potentially historic homes to have his house designated a municipal historic resource and apply for funding.
“We’re really hoping this plan helps us maintain heritage in our community so that we are preserving and protecting these (properties) for future generations,” said Kelly Jerrott, director of cultural services.
The plan, put together by consultants Donald Luxton & Associates, as well as David Murray Architect, doesn’t just focus on buildings, but could include other heritage resources such as significant tree stands or other landmarks within the city.
By passing the plan, council will now start including funding of $50,000 per year in its annual budget. That money will be divided into different reserve accounts – $20,000 for municipally owned property, $15,000 for heritage awareness and $15,000 for private property.
Over time, these reserves could allow owners of property deemed to be a municipal historic resource to apply for funding from both the city and the province for restoration and renovation purposes. The plan could also lead to bylaws governing how such properties are treated in the future.
In a series of open houses held during the plan’s development, consultants identified some 100 properties of interest, said Mayor Nolan Crouse. About 90 of them were privately owned, he estimated.
“We have many, many residents who would say, ‘I like my house and I want it preserved and protected,’” Crouse said. “This isn’t just about grain elevators or Juneau house; this is about the entire community.”
But Coun. Malcolm Parker had difficulty understanding why this management plan was necessary when the city already had two other plans in place.
“We know we’re not going to save all those sites, but when I read this (plan), I said are we really trying to put a framework here to manage all our heritage and culture? Isn’t that the job of administration to do that that? That’s what I’m after. Was there any economic benefit? What’s the payback to the community,” Parker said.
Coun. Wes Brodhead argued the city needs to preserve what it has before inaction threatens the future of any significant properties.
“We have a history residents are proud of that we have celebrated. We do our city a disservice if we don’t have a mechanism to allow our citizens to maintain our heritage going forward,” said Brodhead.
Administration will also start working with Arts and Heritage St. Albert to update the heritage site master plan, passed in 2004.