Heritage versus Property Rights

Heritage is the continued representation of  historical events, objects and locales to which memories are attached, venerated customs and traditions, the accumulation of wisdom, in short : CULTURE.

The degree to which a society protects and cherishes its HERITAGE is the measure of its CULTURAL CONSCIOUSNESS.

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Property ownership, in particular land and buildings (real estate) which have commercial value and thus can be traded as commodities, can be managed and protected or neglected when no longer useful, therefore, are subject to speculation, change of purpose, long life or annihilation.

As societies, communities evolve, they create history which leaves behind “markers”. These can appear in many different forms and as such become part of the mosaic, which is Heritage. The Past, through Heritage, is the greatest teacher, because it is the mirror, the record of a society’s behaviour.

The Past shapes the Future through the Present!

The Value of Heritage is constantly challenged and diminished by commercial interests. It behoves society to decide on the balance between both, since blind  and unconditional obedience to tradition leads to stagnation and stasis. Heritage has to be relevant at any time. It will achieve that status, when it reflects timeless values necessary for the survival of the society which created it.

On Bowen Island such challenge has developed between Metro Parks, wanting to reduce the last vestiges of Western Canada’s largest seaside resort during the first half of the 20th century and the community of Bowen Island wishing to retain these very last reminders of a glorious time, when hundreds of thousand of visitors came to the “Happy Isle”, enjoying a simple lifestyle and creating memories, which are now remembered by the third generation.

Which is more important  Property Rights (physical ownership) or a community’s Heritage (intangible values) ?

 

HC Behm

hcbehm@shaw.ca

© Copyright Bowen Island Undercurrent

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