Two Nelson city council commissions responsible for heritage could be seeing an overhaul after a recommendation was passed Monday night.
The recommendation was in response to a request from councillor Paula Kiss who had concerns about the efficiency of the Community Heritage Commission and Advisory Planning Committee.
“Having sat on both, I just didn’t think heritage interests were being efficiently and properly represented,” said Kiss. “I thought there were better ways to do things and asked staff to look at that.”
Part of the staff recommendation is that bylaws be prepared to rescind the two commissions and an amendment be prepared for the Cultural Development Commission’s terms of reference outlining the responsibility of the Commission to incorporate heritage as a strategic priority of the commission including the recommendation to council of heritage initiatives.
“There is overlap [between the two commissions] and I just don’t think it is as effective,” said Kiss.
“We have both our planners sitting in on two meetings. The Community Heritage Commission is kind of its own entity when really all the planning we’ve been doing over the last two years has grouped culture and heritage together.”
Even though Kiss feels the new model recommended by staff will better represent heritage interests in the community, councillor Robin Cherbo said he feels the city is “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”
“I just am concerned that removing the heritage commission will water down the look at heritage in the city and it won’t have the emphasis or due diligence it has now,” said Cherbo. “I think it will be part of a new committee, but how it pans out concerns me.”
With the focus of the Community Heritage Commission being solely on Nelson heritage matters, Cherbo fears heritage interests will now be watered down.
“The heritage commission deals directly with heritage issues,” he said. “They don’t look at other issues. They are more focused and have more expertise to rely on. I think it’s more attentive to heritage concerns. I don’t think the current system will last, so hopefully the new committee will make sure heritage is properly addressed.”