Thomson: Learning lessons from our past

When the legislature is in session, and we’re working long hours in Victoria, time really flies.

When the legislature is in session, and we’re working long hours in Victoria, time really flies.

Between the start of session and the 2012-13 provincial budget, it’s been a busy few weeks.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t use my space here to talk about last week. Feb. 19 to 26 was Heritage Week. The theme this year was Energy in B.C.: A Powerful Past, A Sustainable Future.

Some people may not necessarily associate heritage with energy. But just as energy production and conservation plays a significant role in British Columbians’ daily lives today, they were crucial factors in B.C.’s development.

As one example, families can learn firsthand about the early development of power in B.C. by touring the Stave Falls generator floor in Mission.

Of course, Heritage Week was also a lot of fun. Starting with a kick-off breakfast hosted by the Rutland Residents Association and Regional Parks Services at Mission Creek Regional Park, there were events all week in and around Kelowna celebrating heritage.

Heritage is not just about looking to the past—it’s about keeping it alive and vibrant in our communities.

Energy is a great example. In the days before hydroelectric power was both cheap and widely available, energy and heat conservation was crucial.

Those lessons and principles remain just as important today.

Despite tough economic times, I was pleased that Budget 2012 contained $21 million over three years for the maintenance and operation of provincial heritage property sites.

This is a good investment in tourism, as about 200,000 British Columbians and other tourists visit our heritage sites every year.

But it’s not just about attracting tourists and revenue; I’ve always felt strongly about the need to preserve, protect and celebrate our shared history as British Columbians.

That’s important, because we’re always discovering new ways—and places—to celebrate B.C.’s heritage.

That’s why we announced we would formally recognize the McAbee fossil site near Cache Creek as a heritage site.

If you haven’t had the chance to see the site and its treasures firsthand, I encourage you to make the short trip.

It’s well worth it; the McAbee beds are known around the world for their incredible abundance, diversity and quality of fossils.

The fossil beds are unique for their exceptionally preserved fossils from the Eocene epoch (56 to 34 million years ago).

Specimens of dozens of varieties of plants, cones, nuts, insects, fish and even feathers are preserved astonishingly well.

McAbee continues to yield new and extraordinary treasures, as many fossils being discovered there are entirely new to science.

After I made the announcement that McAbee would be protected as a heritage site, I was delighted to receive an appreciative letter from Dr. Bruce Archibald, from the department of biological sciences at Simon Fraser University.

He called it “a great day for paleontology in B.C.” I couldn’t agree more.

Learn more about BC Heritage at


Steve Thomson is the Liberal MLA for Kelowna-Mission.