When a 105-year-old church building in Lowertown was put up for sale earlier this year, the decision sparked conversations about the future of Summerland’s past.
Over the years, many of Summerland’s older buildings have been demolished. Some remain, but have undergone extensive modifications.
While it is easy to talk about the need to preserve heritage buildings, the cost is a significant obstacle.
An offer on the Lakeside Presbyterian Church building was for $425,000. This is a significant cost, and it did not include the ongoing expenses such as maintenance and upkeep of the building. Such costs are equally as important as the purchase price, since older buildings require extra care and attention.
Funding a heritage project of this nature is a major undertaking. The costs must be considered
The cost of the church would preserve just one Summerland building.
If additional buildings are to be protected, the purchase costs and maintenance costs of these buildings must also be considered.
This raises an important question. Where will the funding come from?
While Summerlanders are generous, there is a limit to how much could be raised through community fundraising efforts.
Passing the costs on to the municipality would mean a significant tax increase for the entire community — something few if any council wish to pursue unless absolutely necessary.
Besides, the primary role of a municipal government is to take care of the legislation, planning and other business involved in running a municipality. Councils are not primarily landlords.
If this building is important to the public, then it is up to the public to coordinate the fundraising efforts, contribute the money and take care of the ongoing needs of this building.
Without such a commitment, talk about the value of preserving Summerland’s heritage is meaningless.