UPDATE! The responses are in.
Of the four parties that received our Provincial Election Survey on Heritage, only the Alberta NDP and the United Conservative Party responded. The Alberta Liberals and the Alberta Party did not respond by the deadline. We’ve linked their responses below:
While we were happy to see responses from the two main parties, it is apparent that much more needs to be done to ensure heritage issues are addressed over the next four years.
On April 16, 2019, Albertans will go to the polls to choose the next government for our fair Province. Elections offer advocates a useful opportunity to elevate the profile of important priorities and opportunities, and connect with new and/or returning elected officials to build support for their cause. The outcome of the upcoming election will have an impact on the policy and funding environment for heritage resources and historic places in the Edmonton region. With the 2019 Provincial election just a few weeks away, here are some of the matters we’ve raised with all parties vying for seats in the Legislature in a candidate survey:
- The Historical Resources Act is the Province’s over-arching piece of legislation enabling the conservation of Alberta’s heritage resources. The Act has not had a comprehensive revision in a significant period of time, and no longer addresses realities facing municipalities working to conserve heritage resources. Changes are needed to reflect current economic conditions and urban planning practices.
- The Alberta Historical Resources Foundation is an official public agency of the Government of Alberta responsible for funding the heritage sector and projects in Alberta. AHRF has not seen a significant budget increase in several years. We asked parties if they would support an increase to the AHRF budget to support growth in the heritage sector.
- Presently, Alberta is one of only two provinces that require municipalities have the consent of property owners when designating a property as a historic resource or otherwise compel municipalities to compensate owners. This “consent or compensation” requirement is a significant barrier to protecting heritage properties across Alberta. We posed the question to all parties to see if they would amend legislation to remove the “consent or compensate” requirement to enable municipalities to better safeguard historic places.
- In a moment of slash and burn under the former Progressive Conservative government, the Alberta Main Street Program (AMSP) was eliminated. The AMSP was vital in creating opportunities for heritage conservation and local economic development. We would welcome a return of the Main Street Program, and we’ve put parties to the task on the matter.
- We’ve been outspoken about the need to take a “carrots approach”, rather than a “sticks approach”, when in comes to the policy and program toolkit to protect heritage resources. We asked parties if they would consider creating a new, accessible, and robust grant program, or tax credit program, to promote rehabilitation and conservation of historic resources.
- Suffice it to say, many across the province were disappointed to learn the government had plans to demolish the former Royal Alberta Museum facility in Glenora. Many more were frustrated by the lack of appropriate consultation and engagement opportunities that followed. We would like to see more meaningful engagement with the community and stakeholders to develop a long-term solution to preserve and re-use this iconic mid-century-modern landmark in Edmonton.
We’re looking forward to sharing the results (or lack thereof) of our provincial election candidate survey with you. We intend to publish the results on the EHC website, newsletter, and social media. If parties choose not to respond, a response of Not Completed will be indicated when responses are posted.
During this election, we also encourage you to take an active role in setting the agenda for heritage. Here’s what you can do:
- Get informed! Learn about existing policy priorities and commitments that might support your work or community, or those that might hinder progress in our sector.
- Contact the candidates in your riding and grill them on the hardstuff; ask them what their priories on funding, programs and policy will be for heritage and museums.
- Get social: Share your experiences and the value of your work to Albertans on social media, blogs, in your local newspaper, radio and websites.
- Invites all candidates to meet you on your turf and impress on them the value of heritage to our province.
- And, obviously…..VOTE.
Our shared heritage is vital to the social cohesion, identity, and fabric of our society. Moreover, we all know that heritage conservation supports local economic development, is a driver for the creative economy and tourism, vibrant communities, and a solution to sustainable urban development. As advocates, we all have a role in speaking up for our heritage, those that work in the sector, and all Albertans who benefit from our diverse history.
If you need advice or tips on how to reach out to candidates effectively and ethically during this election cycle, please contact us!
For more information on how, when where to vote, please visit elections.ab.ca.
Dan Rose is the Communications Coordinator with the Edmonton Heritage Council.
Photo credit: Provincial Archives of Alberta, PA40.1.