Lacombe Heritage Resources Committee member Chuck Bourn is looking to get the word out that historical homeowners can apply to have their properties designated by the City of Lacombe. (Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express)

Heritage Resources Committee looking to preserve Lacombe’s built history

Committee encourages historical homeowners to get municipally designated

The Heritage Resources Committee is looking to spread the word of the City of Lacombe’s Heritage Management Program which offers homeowners the opportunity to have their home designated as a heritage home in Lacombe.

The committee, which is comprised of seven members including City Councillor Jonathan Jacobson, focuses on preserving built history and architecture in Lacombe. Current municipally designated historical buildings in Lacombe include St. Andrew’s United Church, the Michener House, the Kangeisser Building, the Blacksmith Ship, the Cenotaph and the cemetery.

The committee began 10 years ago with a study that identify around 150 buildings in Lacombe with the potential to be designated. From there, around 50 were identified as buildings with great historical significance.

“A Statement of Significance was drawn up for each of those ones that talks about the character the home, it’s style and how it was build. It also outlines character elements which are key to what our committee does,” Committee member Chuck Bourn said.

The character elements of a historical building are agreed upon by the city and the homeowner. A misconception of this is owners cannot improve these elements or their home but maintenance of these elements does not require exact custom solutions. Homeowners would simply maintain these elements with the best options available. Elements are also only on the exterior public side of the buildings, meaning any modernization in the interior of the home is allowed.

Bourn said he hopes more homeowners will have their properties designated in order to preserve the historical significance of Lacombe. Designation allows for owners to access grant funding from city to cover maintenance, which was recently accessed by St. Andrew’s in order to help restore some of their exterior brick work.

“Upon successful designation, there are potential provincial funds also available. City designation means something to the province who have their own heritage designation,” Bourn added.

Historical homes can be as old as 110 years old to around 50 years old and Bourn said Lacombe said the multiple eras of buildings in Lacombe is unique aspect of the town that helps drive interest and tourism.

“Lacombe is very unique in the prairies, with the downtown, especially, being made of brick,” he said.

The committee also helps ensure that older homes being demolished are still preserved in some ways. The committee will go into homes set to be taken down and will ensure all salvageable material is taken out.

Bourn said they granted around $7,000 to historical homes last year to seven different properties and believes that number will grow if more owners decide to designate.

“If they have a heritage home, they can find out more and perhaps apply,” he said.

The committee will be having an announcement for the Fraser-MacDonald building in the fall and also hosts workshops for homeowners looking to maintain their heritage property.

“A lot of people appreciate the unique nature of Lacombe’s built heritage, whether they know much about it or not. It is important they know there is a way to help keep that heritage,” he said.

He added, “We are not ever pushing people to designate. It is up to them.”

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