EDITORIAL – Heritage groups have failed us on downtown highrises
An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
WHERE HAVE ALL the heritage advocates gone?
I can’t get excited about the fact an old house on Nicola Street is being moved up to McLure while an entire block of heritage homes will be obliterated.
The removal of the unassuming craftsman-style house is being treated by the media not only as a feel-good human-interest story but as some sort of victory for heritage.
Fact is, some 19 other houses within that block will be torn down and replaced with towers of condos and rental units. Maybe one or two others will be moved as well, and the bones of still others will be picked over by renovators for their heritage features.
Make no mistake, the Fawcett family and the Kelson Group — developers of the project — are great corporate citizens, donating a lot of money to community causes. They can’t be faulted for working within the free-enterprise system.
Supporters of this City Gardens project — and there are many — view it as the best thing ever for the downtown core.
How can anyone question getting rid of a bunch of old houses and putting up brand-spanking new high rises?
My answer is that single-family dwellings help preserve lifestyle and character in our inner city instead of having to take an elevator to get to your front door.
But where my real frustration lies is that this “progress” is happening so easily, without challenge. Certainly not from City council, which celebrates it. And where are the heritage advocates — the historians, council’s heritage advisory sub-committee that’s supposed to speak up about such things, the Kamloops Heritage Society, the Kamloops Museum?
They’ve been involved in some background conversations but publicly they’ve been AWOL.
Where is their voice on how, at least, the most precious and important of those homes could be saved where they stand?
Crickets. So the news story is about one house being moved instead of about so many being lost, and that’s on them.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The insidious nature of development. Little by little things disappear until you wake up one day and its all gone.