Heritage Management Plan

Did You Know... The Town of Athabasca now has an official Heritage Management Plan, designed to recognize and protect our local heritage resources.


New Heritage Management Plan protects Athabasca resources

Well, it has been a few years in the making, but the Town of Athabasca now has a recognized heritage management plan. The final draft is an effort that contributing partners and supporting members in the community can be proud of, as it appears we are the first community of our size in the province to have succeeded in finalizing such a plan. The plan is vital in the recognition and preservation of heritage resources.

Heritage resources come in a variety of forms: buildings, clusters of buildings, structures, cultural landscapes, even neighbourhoods. Athabasca is home to many such resources.

In print, the Town of Athabasca Heritage Management Plan has 50 pages of comprehensive definitions, references, guidelines and implementation strategies.

Three coordinated approaches are used to form the basis of the plan. They include a process for managing and protecting heritage sites, a policy indicating the direction and intent of the Town in protecting its heritage, and a strategy to move forward with recognizing and encouraging heritage development.

The Heritage Management Plan will ensure a consistent approach to heritage management in Athabasca. The plan provides practical and achievable objectives, actions and strategies, and proposes policies to protect, conserve, develop and enhance key features of Athabasca’s heritage.

The plan will also encourage and promote greater awareness and interest in the heritage resources in the community. Partners and supporters of the initiative want to preserve Athabasca’s historic places for the enjoyment, use and study of present and future generations and visitors.

Certain risks face heritage preservation in Athabasca. As outlined in the plan, these risks may include the demolition of historic buildings to make way for new development, inappropriate redesign of existing significant buildings, historic buildings falling into disrepair as a result of deferred maintenance, and new unsympathetic design developments. One role of the Heritage Management Plan is to mitigate the risks where possible.

The heritage plan also outlines several specific goals, most notably, to enable Athabasca’s historic places to contribute effectively to the Town’s prosperity and quality of life for its citizens, and to develop incentives which will encourage the conservation of historic places.

Federal, provincial input valued

National and provincial heritage programs have been instrumental in the development of the Athabasca Heritage Management Plan. The Historic Places Initiative (HPI), a collaboration of the provinces, territories and federal government, was created to recognize and manage Canada’s historic resources. Primary tools of the HPI are the Canadian Register of Historic Places and the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.

The Municipal Heritage Partnership Program, an initiative of the Government of Alberta, has also supported Athabasca’s drive to develop a heritage management plan, contributing significant funding and expertise.

Two important steps leading up to the creation of the Athabasca Heritage Management Plan were the Town of Athabasca Heritage Survey and the Town of Athabasca Heritage Inventory.

The Athabasca Heritage Survey, completed in early 2005 with partial funding from the province, identified potential heritage resources for further evaluation. Approximately 250 potential resources were identified and documented, a process that included photographs and standardized descriptions of construction and design features.

The Athabasca Municipal Heritage Inventory was completed in May of 2006. Contracted by the Town, Heritage Collaborative Inc. conducted formal evaluations of more than 200 surveyed items and developed a list of places of interest. From that list, 25 historic places and one cultural landscape – the Town of Athabasca Riverfront – were recognized as having sufficient significance and integrity to be added to the first listing of the Athabasca Heritage Inventory. The inventory includes an historical context paper, draft Statements of Significance and heritage evaluation forms. A municipal heritage inventory is the first step to recognizing and providing protection to local historic places.

Historic places that appear on the heritage inventory may then be considered for inclusion on the Athabasca Register of Historic Places. Sites listed on this register are afforded greater recognition and protection. Additionally, the Athabasca Register is linked with the provincial and national registers and recognized sites may be nominated for the Alberta Register of Historic Places and the Canadian Register of Historic Places as municipal Historic Places.

Local advisory board active

Locally, the Athabasca Heritage Advisory Board assisted with the development of the Athabasca Heritage Inventory and the Athabasca Heritage Management Plan. First convened in March of 2006, the Board conducts heritage evaluations and makes recommendations to Town Council. Members of the Board include representatives of Town Council, Town Administration, Athabasca University, the Athabasca Public Archives and members of the general public.

The Town of Athabasca Heritage Management Plan was researched and prepared by Heritage Collaborative Inc., Edmonton, Alberta, in consultation with contributing partners including the Athabasca Heritage Advisory Board, representatives from Athabasca Town Council, Town Administration and the provincially mandated Municipal Heritage Partnership Program.

To view our award winning Heritage Management Plan click here

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