Provincial Historic Resource Project Approvals – Why you need them!

Since I started my new post as a Heritage Conservation Adviser for the Edmonton Region, I have occasionally needed to write up project approvals for interventions occurring at a Provincial Historic Resource. Sometimes these projects were already underway or even completed. There are a number of reasons why project approvals should be issued before work occurs on or within the designation boundaries of a Provincial Historic Resource, including:

1. It’s the LAW!  Not to scare anyone, but it’s true. Section 20(9) and (10) of Alberta’s Historical Resources Act states:

(9) Notwithstanding any other Act, no person shall destroy, disturb, alter, restore, repair any historic resource or land that has been designated under this section (i.e. Provincial Historic Resource), or remove an historic object from an historic resource that has been designated under this section, without the written approval of the Minister. (10) The Minister, in the Minister’s absolute discretion, may refuse to grant an approval under subsection (9) or may make the approval subject to any conditions the Minister considers appropriate.

Please note: owners of Municipal Historic Resources must obtain approval from their municipal council (or its designate) prior to completing any work that will “destroy, disturb, alter, restore or repair” the designated property. See Section 26(6) of the Historical Resources Act for detailed information. With any questions, please contact your municipality.

2. It ensures the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada  are followed. The Standards and Guidelines must be followed for the approval of any intervention. This pan-Canadian document, which has been formally adopted by the Government of Alberta, is an important reference tool in learning how to conserve one’s historic resources. The decision to perform work on any given historic resource starts with having an understanding of the place.  This is done during the designation process of Provincial Historic Resources and is documented in their individual Statements of Significance, which can be found on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. Only after a place is understood can successful planning for interventions begin. This is where the Provincial Historic Resource Project Approval process comes in as it allows for the evaluation of proposed work and serves to validate and document the methods and materials that will be used during the planned project. Without first understanding and planning, the last step of the conservation decision-making process – completing the actual intervention – may not be successful!

Finally, the last and most important reason to obtain a Project Approval for an intervention to a Provincial Historic Resources is:

3. You get to meet ME or one of my fellow Heritage Conservation Advisers. We are available to provide you with free advice on the maintenance and care of your designated Provincial Historic Resource so that it is allowed to continue to survive for generations to come.  Involving a Heritage Conservation Adviser at the outset of any given project might provide you with an insight previously not considered. It is also a requirement should you submit an application for grant funding with the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. This funding could help in covering 50% of the expenses related to a conservation project, up to a maximum amount of $100,000. (Owners of Municipal Historic Resources are eligible to receive up to a maximum of $50,000.)

The care and maintenance of our designated Provincial Historic Resources is in the best interests of all Albertans. Let’s work together to ensure that this work is done to the best of our abilities and documented properly so that the lessons we learn from the process and results are not forgotten.

Written by: Carlo Laforge, Heritage Conservation Adviser.

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