Preserving built heritage has economic benefits

Removing heritage homes in Oak Bay strikes a nerve with municipal archivist

Re: Tearing down old homes the answer (Letters, June 22)

Publicly and privately owned heritage buildings face mounting threats from age, rising maintenance costs, soaring land values and a strong pace of property development.

Heritage buildings have an important influence on a community’s spirit, character, liveability and sustainability, while also embodying a sense of history and preserving qualities of craftsmanship.

The preservation of built heritage can bring economic benefits through tourism, renovation projects and specialist services.

A community that encourages rehabilitation and maintenance of historic buildings fosters increased private investment in heritage preservation and creates a more livable community for existing and new residents.

It promotes neighbourhood revitalization and stability, enhances the community’s self-image and pride, supports renovation and building trades and promotes the development of a sustainable community.

On the other hand, replacing historic buildings with new construction can adversely affect the ambience of the community. Doing so threatens to destroy heritage streetscapes, erode greenspace, disrupt neighbourhood livability, damage the fabric of neighbouring heritage homes and alter patterns of drainage and water runoff.

Much new construction lacks the architectural considerations of mass and scale and ignores the historic context of the neighbourhood, thus presenting as an eyesore rather than improvement.

I support any efforts council may undertake to maintain the heritage character of Oak Bay through its planning and building incentives.

It is the mature streetscapes, well-maintained gardens and character homes that make our community special.

Jean Sparks

Oak Bay