Rossland has set out to make it easier for communities in the region to start a heritage commission, by offering to act as a resource.
Jackie Drysdale, chair of the Rossland Heritage Commission, explained the possibilities to Regional District of Kootenay Boundary board members last week.
Currently the commission keeps a registry of heritage sites in Rossland, which includes over 30 buildings, such as the Miners’ Hall, built in 1898, and the Bank of Montreal, built between 1898 and ’99.
Drysdale said they are working on a three year plan for the restoration of the Rossland Cemetery.
She offered some steps to start to make heritage a priority in other communities.
First they need to seek out the support and leadership of local government, through an official community plan or council motion.
After that they need to identify citizens who are willing to work voluntarily. She said there is also opportunity to use existing societies to help with this.
Next is to call on the provincial heritage branch for help in evaluating your communities heritage.
Drysdale said that while a regional heritage commission is desirable as a way of seeing the common and unique themes of the heritage of our region, it would be premature at this time to go ahead add a new function to the regional district.
“You need to move forward at the local level first,” she said. “Let the goal be a regional heritage commission made up of informed individuals of their own communities to then talk about the possible efficiencies.”
Drysdale touched on grant opportunities as well.
“If you want to go for grants in the province, particularly the Heritage Legacy Grant, then you have to have a registry, you have to go identify that building or site as being really important to the community,” she explained, adding that because other bodies that deliver assistance are starting to work with the same parameters, its even more important to start a registry early.
She said there are also tools that can help once the restoration begins, since the tax can then be held at the same level for the next five or 10 years despite the improvements that would drive a the value up.
“I hope that as a board, and back to councils, that we might get some motions in place,” Drysdale said. “Heritage is only moving forward in terms of visibility.”
Kathy Wallace, Rossland’s representative on the board, echoed the invitation to get advice from the Rossland Heritage Commission.
“If any other communities do have questions, then Jackie and her crew are able to answer them,”Wallace said.