December 9th, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 48
Heritage Inventory Project wrap up
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black Photo
The Bellevue Café on main street in Bellevue could be designated a municipal historic resource.
Pass Herald Reporter
After three years of work, can the municipality cash in on the Heritage Inventory Project?

Yes, but only if local vendors band together to sell the Pass as a historic destination, said Fred Bradley president of the Crowsnest Historical Society.

“A historic downtown is an attractor but it’s really up to the business community to move in and use it,” said Bradley, at the second and final open house of the Heritage Inventory Project Phase III at the MDM Centre in Bellevue.

“If our heritage attractions bring people in and there is nothing there for them to open their wallets to, there’s nothing,” he added.

Over three years, Community Design Strategies, a company specializing in heritage management planning, has inventoried and surveyed 105 properties that could be designated municipal historic resources if the building owners wish to do so.

Many of the buildings are commercial and historic designation could make the community’s main streets more attractive to the traveling public who hopefully will be more inclined to come, visit and spend money, said Bradley.

A next step for preserving the community’s heritage and stirring up business could be appealing to the Main Street Program, an initiative funded by the provincial government.

According to a 2009 report prepared by the Heritage Canada Foundation, the Main Street approach differs from typical community and economic development endeavours because it uses ‘heritage’ as a tool for economic development.
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To become an accredited Main Street Community, the Pass would have to meet certain guidelines. The historic district would have to have a critical mass of businesses and buildings, it would have to be compact and easily walkable and it would have to have older buildings that represent the community’s architectural heritage.

“A Main Street Community has a historic downtown core. It can be very vibrant,” said Merinda Conley, President of Community Design Strategies.

Unfortunately, last year the provincial Conservatives shut down the Main Street Program because of a lack of funding, said Conley but there is the hope of getting federal funding.

“Our hope is we can find some way to reestablish the Main Street Program in this province with the help of the National Trust for Canada,” she said.

Appealing to the National Trust for Canada is just one of the recommendations Community Design Strategies is making to preserve the Pass’ architectural legacy.

They are also calling for the creation of a Crowsnest Pass Heritage Management Plan by appealing to the Heritage Preservation Partnership Program for funding, continuing the installation of plaques and information panels to educate the public continuing efforts to develop a regional heritage and cultural tourism program and other recommendations.
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Phase III of the Heritage Inventory Project identified 36 sites in Bellevue and Hillcrest that could be designated historically significant. They include the Bellevue Legion, the Bellevue Inn, Hillcrest United Church and the Emmerson Building, currently home to The Old Dairy Ice Cream Shoppe.

The municipal Heritage Advisory Board and Community Design Strategies teamed up on the project to determine the most historically significant buildings in the Pass for formal municipal designation.

This project allows property owners to apply for up to $50,000 a year in matching funds if their buildings are designated historic.

Robert Earley, Community Design Strategies heritage and communication planner has spent the last three years researching historically significant buildings from the B.C. border to East Hillcrest.

Volunteers put in over 1,000 hours to complete the project and Earley said he’s become something of a Crowsnest expert.

“For someone who’s not from this area, who didn’t know much about the history of this area, I’ve learned a tremendous amount,” he said.
December 9th ~ Vol. 85 No. 48
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