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Effective Action on Municipal Heritage

This extract that follows is from Community Heritage Ontario (CHO) President Wayne Morgan’s message in the Winter 2017 edition of CHOnews, CHO’s quarterly publication for member heritage committees:-

How can a Municipal Heritage Committee (MHC) sell conservation without compromising its role as an advisor to Council? Many MHCs have an educational role in their mandate. To carry out that role, they have undertaken walking tours, published brochures, held Doors Open events, produced videos, erected plaques, created or been part of municipal websites, given awards for good conservation, and held workshops.

Workshop topics range from heritage house maintenance to the implications of heritage conservation district designation. One municipal plaque program includes all properties that have potential heritage value and not just those on the Heritage Register. This builds community pride and shows the broad extent of heritage resources. New techniques for getting the message out include ‘Murmur’, which enables walkers to hear community heritage stories using their smartphones.

There is a fine line between education and advocacy. At all times, MHCs should keep their Councils informed and, wherever possible, involved in heritage education initiatives. Now may be a good time to review your education program, determine whether it is meeting its objectives, and explore different ways to get the message out and engage new audiences.”

Municipalities in Ontario are mandated by statute to set up a heritage committee, whose function is to provide advice to the elected Council on matters affecting built heritage in its jurisdiction. These committees are comprised of appointed volunteers from that municipality who have knowledge of matters within the committee’s remit. Where resources allow they are usually supported by one or more municipal staff members with heritage planning responsibility.

Individual municipal councillors may or may not support the objective of preservation of built heritage and the necessary corollary of educating local electors to appreciate and respect visible reminders of their community’s past. Continue reading

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