How do I start?!

 

Since you are reading this blog, it’s likely that you’re someone who cares about historic places.  Whether it’s the corner coffee shop that has always served as a local gathering place, or the ornate church at the centre of town with a soaring steeple, historic places are places of meaning that help us define our communities.

You may be thinking – “how can I help conserve the places that matter to me and my community?” Many Albertans may not be aware that their locally significant historic places can be legally protected at the municipal level. That’s right – you heard it here. Since 1978, local governments in Alberta have been empowered by the Historical Resources Act to protect their own historic places through designation as Municipal Historic Resources.

Perhaps you are an owner or steward of a place you believe is historically significant and are interested in seeing that place protected. Or maybe you are a municipal councillor, administrator, or staff person responding to requests from your residents:

  • Dig into the history for yourself – there is no substitute for understanding the background and context of the place. Local archives, land titles, municipal records like building permits, organizational Minutes, conversations with seniors/elders, and family photo albums are great sources to try and deepen our knowledge of the past – especially about our historic places;     
  • Get involved Does your community have an established Heritage Advisory Body? Ask your municipal staff or Councillor if you do, and if, so, let them know about the historic places that matter to you. If you don’t yet have a “HAB,” offer to help your community get one started;
  • Request an Evaluation – Alberta Culture and Community Spirit’s Municipal Heritage Partnership Program can help your municipality to determine its heritage values and evaluate places that are of interest. This can happen through a project called a heritage inventory, or on a more ‘one-off’  basis. MHPP staff are available to help local governments “get the ball rolling” and engaged in conserving their heritage.
In short, if you’re keen to see your historic places conserved for future generations of Albertans, MHPP staff are here to help.
Written by: Matthew Francis, Manager of Municipal Heritage Services

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