Opinion

Thomson: Historic places are a part of us

Kelowna is a place I’m proud to call home.

We are a modern community with an exciting future ahead of us, but I occasionally like to reflect on the rich history we share.

My family first came to the Kelowna area in 1892, and my brother still works the same land my family has farmed since 1896.

Benvoulin Heritage Church has deep roots in our community and means a lot to many families, including mine.

My great aunt Beatrice Thomson (Aunt Bobo) was the first person baptized in the church on Christmas Eve of 1893.

As I recently stood inside the church for B.C. Heritage Week festivities, I was reminded of the connection places like Benvoulin Church have to all of us.

There are similar buildings across the province, and they need to be preserved so future generations can share this connection to the land and community.

These places tell stories about who we are as a people and provide a tangible connection to history.

There are more than 3,500 historic houses in B.C.’s Register of Historic Places.

Heritage homes are iconic features in a community; they provide educational activities and promote well-being across the community, as well as provide locations for celebrations, like weddings and community events.

By preserving these links to the past, we strengthen our community identities moving forward.

Historic places also give a boost to our economy. B.C.’s historic buildings, structures, and cultural landscapes attract more than 200,000 visitors annually.

That’s a lot of money flowing into the local community.

This is why heritage conservation is a core value of our government.

February18 to 24 was Heritage Week. It symbolizes our commitment to three goals in heritage conservation—to strengthen and renew B.C.’s identity, support environmental stewardship, and build economic diversity and durability in our historic places.

Last year, we announced a commitment of $21 million in heritage funding over the next three years.

In 2012-13, $7.046 million was distributed, creating 96 direct, full-time jobs.

On Feb. 15, I announced an additional $500,000 for Heritage BC, which will be used to deliver heritage planning, training services, and other conservation measures to support the preservation of historic places.

Our goal is to ensure that Heritage BC can transition to a dynamic self-sustaining organization.

Conservation of historic places requires cooperation from all levels of government, and that is what we are doing.

Our heritage strategy was guided through consultation with local governments, businesses, heritage advocates and the public.

We believe in a place where historic places are honoured and preserved for this generation and those to come.

These places tell stories of who we are as families, communities and as a society.

Places like Benvoulin Historic Church are part of a community’s identity. We are committed to support and preserve sites like it across the province.

 

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