This undated photography of the Willow Point Hall shows the building as it used to be

Giving Campbell River’s past a future

The proposed heritage program allows the city to group heritage sites into one of three categories

Council has endorsed a city heritage program that includes three different levels of protection.

The city established a Community Heritage Register in 2008 to give heritage status to the Sybil Andrews Cottage, but the program has been somewhat idle up until now.

Last year, Tom McKenzie of the Willow Point Lions Club approached the city to request the Willow Point Hall be put on the Heritage Register. After a year of negotiations, council voted last week to have the old hall join the Sybil Andrews property on the register.

That prompted city staff to come to council with a recommendation that the city implement a heritage program with a three-pronged approach.

“Creating a heritage program provides local government with a recognized method of organizing and recognizing the community’s heritage resources,” said Michele Sirett, the city’s recreation and culture supervisor, in a report to council. “Recognizing and preserving community heritage inspires a strong sense of pride and belonging in a community and raises community awareness around the local history and culture.”

The proposed heritage program allows the city to group heritage sites into one of three categories, with different levels of protection.

At the lower end of the spectrum is the Community Heritage Inventory, which informally identifies heritage resources, but provides no protection from alterations or demolition.

Up a level is the Community Heritage Register, which formally identifies heritage values.

However, similar to the Heritage Inventory, properties on the register do not have protection. To put a property on the Heritage Register, council must vote in favour of a resolution to do so and a Statement of Significance is required detailing the heritage value of the site.

Also requiring a Statement of Significance is Community Heritage Designation, the highest level of the heritage program, which ensures long-term protection of a heritage resource through a city bylaw. To be given heritage designation, a Statement of Significance is required, as is a Heritage Designation bylaw and public hearings.

Next steps for the city are developing a website and brochure to promote the heritage program, and to establish Statements of Significance for landmarks or buildings that would like to join the heritage program. The advantage to a property owner is easy access to heritage funding grants through senior levels of government and heritage organizations.

Coun. Larry Samson said the city will work towards adding to the heritage program.

“Staff are now going to be working on an inventory of heritage buildings in Campbell River, which is a great thing – to protect heritage buildings like Haig-Brown House,” said Samson, who added a heritage site does not have to be a building. “One thing they’re talking about is Big Rock down at the water because it has significance to our First Nations – the placement of the rock and how it got there.”

Sirett said she expects the majority of the heritage sites, such as Big Rock, “will be recognized at the inventory level and only a select few resources will make the designation level.”