Analyzing and Designing an Evaluation System for Heritage Resources: Part 1

This is from a paper written for one of my continuing education courses.

For this project I am reviewing the City of New Westminster’s Heritage Register.  I am being aided in this by the City’s Heritage Planner, Julie Schueck.  The City’s heritage program does not have a very long history.  The City having experienced a lengthy decline since the 1950s, and starting in the 1980s turned to their heritage inventory to help spur an economic revitalization.

New Westminster has had a steady evolution in its treatment of its heritage resources.  It started out as a windshield survey in the 1980s—the Heritage Resource Inventory.  An effort to create a purpose for these listed buildings, the City initiated a Heritage Area Revitalization Program (HARP) focused on the Columbia Street commercial district.  This program was largely a cosmetic, incentive laden program intended to rejuvenate the historic downtown core.

A new listing, a Heritage Register, has since been established.  Based on the earlier Inventory, this is the official listing of properties “[d]eemed to have historic value”[1].  This list gives a degree of control over the outward appearance of recognized heritage buildings and makes owners eligible for special considerations regarding the Building Code and the Home Owners Act.  A Community Heritage Commission sits to advise the Mayor and Council on related issues.  While theoretically the City has the power to place homes on the list without owner’s approval, the City does not exercise this option.

A more recent development from the City has been the Neighbourhood Historical Context Statements.  This is a program led by local heritage consultants to give the community a greater voice in determining their community’s heritage.  This program is still being carried out, but has been very well received by the community.

This paper will explore the City of New Westminster’s Heritage Register and supporting programs and compare and contrast them to the theoretical ideas explored in the Determining Significance of Heritage Resources course, and offer constructive criticism on the process.

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