Delta is putting our money where its mouth is when it comes to heritage preservation.
There has been much hand wringing over the last couple of years as heritage buildings in these parts have either come down or been earmarked for demolition. Many people have lamented the loss of these structures, concerned that Delta is collectively sitting on its hands as links to our past are disappearing.
Well, civic politicians are doing something about it now and we're on the hook for the tab, which could run as high as $600,000 to relocate and eventually modify the century-old Harris Barn after it's moved from a Ladner farm to the grounds of the Kirkland House on Arthur Drive.
Whether you think it's a tremendous idea or a colossal waste of money, what this project does is underscore the steep price attached to preserving these pioneer structures. It struck me as an awful lot of money to save an old barn, although I'll readily admit I'm blissfully ignorant of the intricacies of such an undertaking.
As parks, recreation and culture director Ken Kuntz alluded to, Delta has to pick its spots when it comes to heritage preservation. It goes without saying there are only so many $600,000 projects the municipality can afford, while at the same time there are a finite number of buildings, heritage or otherwise, that are needed to be turned into public venues.
If you can get past the price tag, this one is not a bad spot to pick as the barn, once moved, will be a nice addition to the Kirkland House grounds.
Having another structure on the property will allow for a greater variety of functions and will complement the Edwardian farm house, the restoration of which has been a labour of love for the good folks of the Kirkland House Foundation.
It's clear, however, that Delta's not going to be able to find half a million bucks or more every time a century-old structure is in peril. And I suspect after this costly venture that civic officials might also have a greater appreciation when private property owners apply for demolition permits after pointing to the often-prohibitive costs of restoring their buildings.
Heritage preservation is like a lot of issues - green space and improved transit immediately come to mind - that government wrestles with on a regular basis: We want it, but we're not always prepared to pay for it.
Delta is bucking up in a big way this time around, but I'm afraid it's a shortterm answer to a long-term predicament.
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