The Town of Drumheller is seeking funding partners to proceed with a heritage preservation strategy following a motion put forward by Councillor Bertamini during the council meeting on December, 21.
Tara Semchuk, president of the Downtown Drumheller Merchants Association told The Mail: “I am glad that it is moving forward and we will hopefully get the partners that we need and get things moving before the summer season.”
Officials from Alberta Culture and Community Spirit visited Drumheller on December 3 to take a look at downtown, meet with Drumheller and District Chamber of Commerce officials to discuss the program and with town administration regarding the necessary next steps to proceed with a heritage preservation strategy for the Town of Drumheller.
Following the officials’ visit, alternatives to the Main Street Program have been highlighted, one of the most notable ones being the Heritage Designation Program, although being part of the latter program could be an initial step toward larger scale heritage preservation initiatives, including the Main Street Program.
The first step needed to proceed with either program is to complete a heritage inventory.
This inventory will evaluate potential significant historic places and clarify their heritage significance and integrity. The approximate cost is $1,500 per property with 33 properties identified as potential significant historic buildings.
With a provincial contribution of up to $20,000 towards its cost, the inventory could amount to $50,000 plus, pending on the scope and the exact number of properties included in the inventory.
Since administration was provided with a motion from council to proceed with participation in the Alberta Main Street Program as a “basic” member in September, the town has completed part of the requirements: providing municipal council endorsement of the membership and historical significance of over 50 per cent of buildings “truly historic” (over 80 per cent expected).
In order to receive basic membership status in the Alberta Main Street Network, a heritage inventory and the employment of a main street coordinator have yet to be completed.
With the Heritage Designation Program, financial commitment will be reduced and individual property owners are eligible for up to $50,000 twice per year for restoration activities that will preserve the historic integrity of heritage buildings. However, on those grant funded projects, a caveat will need to be added on the title of the property to protect the community-funded investment in the property.
The main cost implications of the Main Street Program is the hiring of a main street coordinator. The Chamber of Commerce had indicated to Council that they would offer an in-kind contribution of staff time for purpose of main street coordinator, Council has now been advised that chamber is willing to partner on such an arrangement only on a cost recovery basis. Council is expecting the costs for such arrangement for a full time position to be $50,000 to $65,000 per year for 3 to 5 years.
As costs for the heritage preservation strategy haven’t been budgeted in the town 2010 Project Budget, it is hoped that community partnerships could be leveraged to support this project.
Heather Bitz, general manager at the Chamber commented: “the town obviously has some ideas whom they might seek out as funding partners, the Chamber of Commerce is probably one of them I would suspect, whether we are in a position to do that, at this stage, I can’t comment too much on it.” Bitz also confirmed that their intention was to see the Main Street Program in Drumheller.