The importance of honouring heritage and bringing the past into the future is the theme of this year’s Heritage Week, which runs between Feb. 17 and 23.
Members of the Community Heritage Commission have launched a program to recognize owners of commercial, institutional and residential structures who have demonstrated excellence in preservation, restoration and rehabilitation.
The 2020 awards, to be presented during Heritage Week, will go to the Salmon Arm Arts Centre/Salmon Arm Art Gallery, the Sinclair House on Lakeshore Road, which has been renovated by architect Bernd Hermanski, and the Harris Street Bank Manager’s House, which is home to the Hays Family.
Maureen Schaffer, a member of the city appointed commission, has long been an avid supporter. She has lived in a British India colonial-style house built in 1910 on the old Merton Hill Road for 43 years.
Mary Landers has been involved since 2007 when she and Dorothy Rolin approached council to create the Heritage Commission.
“I do feel quite passionate about preserving heritage; once it’s gone it’s gone forever,” she said, pointing out she believes a town is far more interesting when it has a cross section of old and new buildings.
“I realize it’s difficult to maintain old buildings – things break down, they’re more expensive to heat, etc. – but the old buildings give the town its character and tell a lot about a town.”
Salmon Arm Museum curator Deborah Chapman said keeping old buildings in good shape and usable is not just about maintaining character, but helping to keep large quantities of building material out of the landfill.
“It might be easier for a builder to take building down, but conservation isn’t just about keeping things from the past, it’s about making them work for the future,” she said, noting the value of the art gallery has been increased with the installation of solar panels.
“A lot of these buildings have such character; the wood is different from what we have today and I like the styles.”
Landers agreed, not just with installation of the solar panels, but the way art gallery officials have gone about raising money for many projects that both preserve and improve the gallery.
Owned by the City of Salmon Arm, the gallery was built in 1937 and was the post office until 1970 when it became the library, said gallery curator/director Tracey Kutschker.
“As leaseholders we pay everything, we’re a non-profit organization responsible for care and upkeep,” she said. “And we bust our butts to be lean and mean to make sure this place does what it’s supposed to do and provide the best service to the community.”
Kutschker said the arts council has taken its role as caretaker of the building as seriously as it does the exhibitions and programs that are held there.
“It’s because the building has a story that makes it so much more meaningful to everyone who walks through our doors and we want to honour that story and the place this building has in the community,” she said. “This is like our biggest artwork in the community collection and it’s in our nature to preserve all things beautiful and cultural.”