The Historic Resources Management Program has developed significantly with strong Council support; It now has two full time staff members; a generous annual operating budget for financial incentives, which is carried over if not allocated; considerable flexibility in enabling relaxations or inclusions in the planning zoning processes; increased training and promotion activities; direct involvement in owning or gifting resources to save them; restoration or redevelopment of artifacts from lost heritage resources. The establishment and expansion of the Register and Inventory over the years displays how the Program has developed.
The first Register of Historic Buildings was developed in 1984, in response to City Council's request to be notified when any heritage buildings were threatened by demolition. Initially, only downtown buildings were inventoried. This list gradually expanded to include the inner city residential communities surrounding downtown Edmonton and Strathcona. The inventorying was performed without consistent criterion, and there was limited staff resources allocated to managing the list.
A few years later in 1988 a city-wide inventorying project was undertaken. City Council directed Administration to "conduct a comprehensive inventory of all historic and/or architecturally significant buildings in Edmonton."
A system was developed to more consistently evaluate buildings. At this time, the Register identified two groupings of Resources; the “A” and “B” Lists. “A” listed buildings were considered to be the more historically significant than the “B” listed buildings.
The City of Edmonton Planning and Development Department selected a project team in 1992 to identify significant buildings, bridges, landscapes, cemeteries, trees, architectural fragments, street furnishings and monuments. Historic resources of all types were evaluated using nationally recognized criteria. The public was also invited to nominate their favorite buildings and landscapes. The result was the Register of Historic Resources in Edmonton – which, at the time, was a list of 437 resources that merited conservation. Natural resources, monuments, cemeteries and fragments were listed separately as Appendices to The Register.The City of Edmonton Planning and Development Department selected a project team in 1992 to identify significant buildings, bridges, landscapes, cemeteries, trees, architectural fragments, street furnishings and monuments. Historic resources of all types were evaluated using nationally recognized criteria. The public was also invited to nominate their favorite buildings and landscapes. The result was the Register of Historic Resources in Edmonton – which, at the time, was a list of 437 resources that merited conservation. Natural resources, monuments, cemeteries and fragments were listed separately as Appendices to The Register.
In 1995, The Register of Historic Resources in Edmonton and the Historic Resource Management Program were presented to City Council. While the Register lists, identifies and locates each of the Historic Resources, the Historic Resource Management Program describes how these resources will be monitored and managed by the Planning and Development Department.
The format of the Register changed between 2005 and 2008. The Planning and Development Department reviewed its Heritage Plan and determined that a new one should be developed. The new plan was developed from the ground up through community involvement. The result was a document that captured the vision of those involved in heritage in the city on how and where heritage should be placed in the next 10 – 15 years. The process also meant that the City aligned itself with national terminology, standards and processes (more details below).
At this time, the A and B differentiation of Resources was removed. All Resources were given equal value. The ‘Register of Historic Resources in Edmonton’ now became a list of those resources legally protected as Municipal Historic Resources, while the remaining resources that were not legally protected formed the Inventory of Historic Resources in Edmonton.
More recently, the City of Edmonton carried out a city-wide study to assess buildings built up to 1959 in recognition of Edmonton’s significant collection of modern resources. The modern structures selected were added to the Inventory. The Inventory and Register continues to expand as significant resources are identified. Due to increasing development pressure, many Resources are being lost. The City is in the process of carrying out thorough inventories of all its historic neighbourhoods.
The New Plan’s Development
In 2005, officials determined that the previous Historic Resource Management Plan needed updating for several key reasons: most notably changing federal and provincial heritage preservation standards and the increased inventory of designated heritage resources in Edmonton. The updating process featured a series of visioning exercises that were held in 2006 and 2007 to ask those with an interest in heritage matters where they would like to see Edmonton in 20 years. The first of these gatherings was held in November 2006; the results are summarized below.
During the second visioning exercise on February 24 2007, the summary and comments from the first visioning exercise were presented to participants. The group was asked to provide more specific directions on how to achieve the objectives shown. The February 2007 summary is provided below.
The last visioning exercise was jointly held with the Edmonton Arts Council in December 2007. The exercise included an overview of the bigger picture and areas of activity that traditionally do not involve Planning and Development (archives, museums, cultural programs). The objective was to develop broader recommendations that will be absorbed into the Cultural Plan when the area of activity falls outside of Planning and Development's mandate.
The results of all exercises and public input were included in an action-oriented plan, where visions were translated into policies and objectives. This formed the basis of the current Historic resources and management plan.