Revelstoke city hall is starting the process of creating a new heritage protection district in the city’s downtown core. The new Central Business District Heritage Conservation Area would tighten up rules around what can and can’t be done to heritage buildings with the goal of protecting them.
At their July 12 meeting, city council approved a recommendation from the city’s heritage commission requesting that city staff initiate the process.
Currently, Revelstoke had one heritage preservation area, the Revelstoke Station neighbourhood. That area covers (roughly) several blocks south of Third St. East and several blocks east of Mackenzie Avenue.
The downtown heritage area would be Revelstoke’s second heritage protection area.
Revelstoke Heritage Commission Chair Mike Dragani explains the committee members wanted expanded protection for the historic buildings in Revelstoke’s business district. He explained that when the Revelstoke Station area was created, it was felt that the existing development permit area rules for the downtown core would provide protection for heritage buildings in that area. Therefore, the heritage commission prioritized and focused on Revelstoke Station. Since then, the commission has come to the understanding that development permit restrictions don’t have as much power to protect heritage buildings as they’d like. The commission would now like to beef up protection by adopting a formal heritage conservation area.
Dragani said the idea was to take it slow, build consensus and explore funding options. “Public commitment means everything in heritage,” Dragani said.
At the July 12 city council regular meeting, Coun. Chris Johnston went further. “There really is no protection for the downtown area,” he said.
Other councillors noted commission ambitions to add portions of Mountain View and Farwell as heritage protection areas in the future, and whether it would make sense to do them all at once. Johnston said that heritage legislation favours creating new preservation areas based on unique neighbourhoods. “It has to be unique to that area to qualify under the legislation,” Johnston said.
City planning director John Guenther said the new heritage area adds more staffing costs when proposals are made in the district. “There is more bureaucracy involved,” Guenther said. “The biggest thing it does right away [is] it puts the brakes on demolition applications.”
Council approved the heritage commission recommendation. City staff will now initiate the process of creating the new district, starting with compiling “statements of significance” for heritage properties in the district.
Council did not put a timeline on the process.