The process of municipal protection for heritage

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The process of municipal protection for heritage

Postby newsposter » Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:43 am

Senior Heritage Planner Darryl Cariou talks about the process of municipal heritage designation (legal protection) in this Centre City blog posting from September 26, 2012:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
The process to protect Calgary's historic resources

Calgary’s City Centre is home to some of the area’s oldest heritage sites. These historic resources often have great historical significance and contain classic architecture that reminds us of our past. Preserving these valuable parts of Calgary’s heritage is a delicate process that requires flexibility, creativity and a strong desire to build relationships and collaborate. Darryl Cariou and the Heritage Planning team work to understand what needs to be preserved, what needs to be modernized and how to balance those needs with the wishes of both the community and the owner of the site. This often means identifying the critical heritage aspects that must be preserved and then blending those features with the modernization and upgrade of the existing structure.

However, even before the Heritage Planning team can begin to do its work, the independently run Calgary Heritage Authority must identify those properties worthy of preservation by making it part of their inventory which now includes nearly 750 sites around the city. To help aid in their decisions over which sites to protect, the Calgary Heritage Authority has a set criteria of nine different values, approved by City Council, which are designed to measure the historical significance of each possibility and then help them determine what should be protected based on the results. Their findings are then passed on to both the owner of the site and Calgary’s City Council..The complete “Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources” can be found online at

“As heritage planners we’re not in the museum business,” says Darryl Cariou. “We don’t like to be the heritage police and we can’t save absolutely every element of the past. Instead, we’d like to work collaboratively with the owners of these unique parts of our city culture to find ways of preserving what is essential from our past. That way we can try to find a balance of hopefully positive outcomes which can be shared between both The City and the owners of the sites. Ultimately we work together with the property owner to ensure we are saving what is important for the future benefit of Calgarians.”

When the time comes to negotiate with the property owner it often is a process of working out the details of how to respect the original character of the heritage location while determining what elements of the structure can be modernized. Also, it’s about how to fairly compensate the owner of the site while trying to find a balance between their wishes in regard to the property and what is required to satisfy its designation and protection as a Municipal Historic Resource. In many cases, Canadian and Alberta grant programs can help to offset some of the costs of modernization while other negotiations with Land Use Planning & Policy can help to structure a good fit for the property based on its intended future.
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