Heritage issues are ones you don’t often hear the civic election candidates talk about, yet there is a dedicated group of volunteers and others in the city who feel they’re very important.
The Central Okanagan Heritage Society manages some of the city’s major historic landmarks.
It owns and operates Benvoulin Heritage Park, which includes the restored 1892 Gothic Revival-style church building, recently-re-built Reid Hall, the cottage garden around it and the caretaker’s residence, McIver House, an 1890s farmhouse. It also maintains Guisachan Heritage Park under contract with the City of Kelowna, a site that features Guisachan House, built in 1891 for Lord and Lady Aberdeen.
The site includes McDougall House, which is owned by the COHS and the Milk Shed, where the society’s offices are located. The society has also been working to restore Brent’s Grist Mill, located in a heritage park adjacent to Mill Creek.
The society’s executive director Janice Henry points out that a number of city-owned heritage assets are reaching a critical point where considerable work is required to preserve them.
In some cases, she says making changes to their interiors would allow for adaptive re-use.
The COHS would like candidates to comment on what role they see built heritage assets playing in the community.
As well, she says some of the city’s heritage assets are falling apart, including Brent’s Grist Mill, while millions of dollars are found for more parks and other community buildings and priorities.
The COHS is interested in knowing how candidates feel about creation of a line item in the city’s annual budget to address ongoing maintenance issues associated with these historic assets.
The society also wonders what candidates’ positions would be on using a portion of the local hotel tax in support of community assets, such as heritage sites, to ensure that tourists can get a sense of local history.