The city has officially increased the heritage status of two of its most prominent and important historic properties.
The Haig-Brown House property and the Sybil Andrews Cottage property have both been issued Community Heritage Designation, which gives the property legal protection from alterations that would detract from their heritage and historic value, as well as assigning them the highest level of recognition the city has for a heritage site.
While the move might be seen by some as simply a symbolic gesture, Ken Blackburn – who manages the Sybil Andrews Cottage site as the executive director of the Campbell River Arts Council and oversees various programs at the Haig-Brown House property as director of public programs for the Museum at Campbell River – says it’s actually an important move for the city.
“In some ways it’s symbolic, yes,” Blackburn says, “but anytime a community takes the time to recognize heritage sites like this, it shows that they take heritage and culture seriously, which is a very good thing for a community as a whole.”
Blackburn says when most people think about the places they’ve traveled, one of the things they tend to remember is how much value that place has placed on its history and heritage, so in recognizing heritage sites in this way, Campbell River has immediately increased its status amongst visitors.
“This move might also spur people to think of other places that have values that should be preserved and protected,” Blackburn says. “And it doesn’t necessarily need to be old buildings, either. It could be trees or streams or other places that helped Campbell River become what it is. These places need to be protected.”
It’s also possible that it proves to be of value in more of a pragmatic sense.
“When you assign heritage value to places, it does tend to open up funding opportunities,” Blackburn says. “There are more grants available that the city could take advantage of when we’re talking about sites that have been listed on heritage registries, meaning that upkeep and improvements might not necessarily need to come from Campbell River taxpayers all the time, which I’m sure people will appreciate,” he adds with a laugh.
While Blackburn doesn’t believe there should be any kind of “target” in terms of the number of recognized sites the city should have, he does think they need to be open to considering more.
“I think what’s more important than a number is the quality of those sites and the honour we give to them,” he says. “Would I like to see more? Sure. But what I really hope is that maybe this gesture gets the people in the community thinking about the importance of heritage and culture and recognizing that we should be protecting and honouring it.”