Town looks to protect historic properties

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Okotokians are invited to take part in developing a program to protect historical buildings and properties in town.

The Town is currently creating a Municipal Heritage Designation Program to preserve the culture and heritage of Okotoks. Though some work was previously done to compile an inventory of properties, this is the first heritage designation plan to be created in town.

“We’re super proud to get it going,” said Okotoks culture and heritage manager Allan Boss. “It’s sort of in alignment with our Culture and Heritage Master Plan. It’s one of the things we’re identifying – we’ve got to protect and preserve our heritage properties.”

The program will be done in phases, the first of which will be completed in 2018, he said. The goal this year is to develop the processes for business or property owners to voluntarily become part of the program and have their property recognized, said Boss.

In most municipalities, having a building or site designated as a heritage property protects the land or structure from alterations that would endanger the character or value of the site. For example, under the City of Calgary’s policy, a historic resource cannot be demolished and requires approval for alterations to historical elements.

Okotoks’ policy has yet to be determined by council. It will come forward in the next few months and a new bylaw will be put into place, said Boss.

It’s important to protect heritage buildings in order to uphold the town’s history, he said.

“The Old Macleod Trail is a prime example, or Frederick Pryce Memorial Park on Elma Street and Veteran’s Way, it would be great to get those recognized and identified as heritage properties,” said Boss. “Or even the Okotoks Art Gallery or the museum, or RPAC. These are all facilities that will likely fall under the program.”

It’s not just for public buildings, he said. Residents living in heritage homes will be invited to participate in the program as well.

No property owner will be forced to apply to heritage designation, said Boss.

“If a business or property owner didn’t want to do it they wouldn’t be forced, but it does give a great opportunity for us to recognize some of the properties we know we want to protect,” said Boss.

An online survey on the Town’s website will collect feedback from Okotoks residents and aid in the development of the program, he said. It will be up until Feb. 5 and information from the survey will be presented back to the public later in the spring, he said.

For more information visit www.okotoks.ca.

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