RDKB looks to chart new course on heritage conservation

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary communities look to answer on whether to establish a region-wide heritage conservation service.

The future of the past is up for debate as Regional District of Kootenay Boundary communities look to answer on whether to establish a region-wide heritage conservation service.

Three options will face the regional district board of directors when they grapple later this year with how to handle the future of heritage service delivery, said RDKB chair Larry Gray.

But before that takes place, RDKB communities and rural areas will offer up their feedback on the Regional Heritage Conservation Feasibility Study — tabled since the election in October.

The big question is if municipalities will even support pursuing funding (taxation) for heritage projects, said Gray. Last week, Gray’s home council in Fruitvale supported the RDKB board in moving forward with the decision.

“We’ve supported the idea that heritage is important and we would like to see the regional district provide some coordination for it, and we hope other councils will look at it and provide the same (support),” he said.

The report itself gave three recommendations, including:

• to leave heritage at the community level, with each community looking after its own heritage projects;

• to establish a registry of heritage projects across the whole area to identify what heritage there is for the purposes of community interest and engagement, as well as for tourism and for people to enjoy their history;

• and to create a more substantial service and hire staff to coordinate heritage projects across the whole region.

As the only municipality with an established heritage commission, Rossland has offered to provide a leadership role to the regional district on the service.

There is a way to do this without requiring an immediate service from the regional district and increasing taxation, Rossland Heritage Commission chair Jackie Drysdale told the Rossland News.

The City of Rossland is preparing a draft proposal for the RDKB board on the matter.

In summary, the main activities that have shaped present-day communities are mining, agriculture, and the pursuit of outdoor recreation — with much of the region settled, and its landscape altered, in pursuit of minerals.