In almost every country and city in the world, Governments are protecting and reclaiming their heritage. Growing understanding of the outstanding universal value of urban heritage goes well beyond the value of the individual buildings it contains.
The preservation of cultural heritage,” explains the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, “is essential for two separate sets of reasons: because of its universal aesthetic and historic value on the one hand and because of its importance to the societies and cultures that are its custodians on the other. Cultural heritage provides a link between past and present and as such boosts individuals’ and communities’ sense of identity and social cohesion. In this way it also cements the foundation on which societies build their future.” However, preserving individual buildings and monuments while carelessly altering their urban environment causes these monuments to lose their meaning and, arguably, much of their value, according to the World Heritage Committee and the experts that advise it.
To quote Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson: “In Canada, our material well-being and our social conscience have combined to create a country that is often described as the best in the world. While we are proud of this accomplishment, we know that our present good fortune is built on the convictions and actions of earlier Canadians. Their efforts brought our society into being, and its present and future growth will be safeguarded by our knowledge of the perils and opportunities that history offers.”
Canada is a nation with a rich river heritage. Rivers molded this country and its peoples. We use rivers as travel routes and as a source of livelihood. We swim and fish in their waters, are challenged by their rapids and wilderness, find peace of mind and solitude along their shores. Rivers are part of our lives and our dreams. Rivers are the threads that weave together the natural and human elements of Canada. But many of our rivers have been severely impacted by dams, diversions, pollution and development. As a result, much of our river heritage is threatened and may be lost forever.
North Delta was built upon the river by pioneers who came here to fish and farm. Families that have lived here since the 1800s and brought up generations of children, are still here because of the livability of our neighbourhoods. Many of our streets are named after these pioneers, yet the current plans for the SFPR, threaten to evict these very families, and expropriate their homes. We have a rich heritage in Delta and therefore a lot to lose. While the South Fraser Perimeter road is an important part of the infrastructure required for the movement of containers and goods, it should not come at such a dear cost to our community. Under the current plans we stand to lose the Johnson house which was built in1915, his son’s house and store on Centre Street, the Jensen House, the Nesbitt house on the hill above the cannery, built by Richard Nesbitt, manager of the cannery for years, the Bartlett house and Watchman’s shack in the ravine by the Cannery, and the Glenrose cannery itself, the last working cannery on the Fraser River, will have its access blocked and so the oldest remaining North Delta business will be told to move on. Other heritage homes that are not on the expropriation list will be seriously devalued by being close to, or under a freeway and the resultant pollution that goes with it.
As well as heritage buildings being lost, the families that built them are being driven out of North Delta.
The Sheaves have lived on River Road all their lives with Sheaves Court named for them. Now they don’t know if they should bother putting a new roof on their house, because for years they have heard a freeway is coming.
Iverson Crescent was named for her husband, yet at 91 yrs. of age, Mrs. Iverson sits on her porch watching the river as she has done for 75 years on River Road, and wonders where she will go. Her son lives next door and works the river. His boats and the net shed his family have leased for decades will be gone. Her daughter, three doors down, wonders where they could buy equivalent properties where the family can stay intact.
Several very long term families and dozens of others will be sent packing, as well as home based businesses that have been built upon the river. Bill Hill’s house is not in danger of expropriation, however his view of the mountains and the river he played on as a small child over seventy years ago will be obscured by a raised freeway that is planned in front of his home. These families are our heritage and what is happening to them is scandalous, immoral and criminal. We must all work to preserve and protect North Delta’s heritage and those families that created it!
As stated in the Delta motto ‘yours to protect through hand and heart’…..and as per Delta’s Official Community Plan, let’s work hard to make our community Livable by creating a sustainable, healthy and safe community in which today’s quality of life will also be enjoyed in the future; Planned by fostering development in a planned and integrated manner that respects natural systems, manages urban growth, provides transportation choices and reinforces community identity; Complete by developing a community in which people of all ages, family structures, backgrounds and interests can live, work and play; and most of all, Green by protecting the natural environment and heritage features of our community.
Investments in modern infrastructure and facilities should not make us lose the proven social, cultural and economic assets that our heritage represents. The Sunbury Neighbourhood Association is not willing to give up our heritage and our founding families to make way for a freeway that will expedite the movement of goods, but at such a huge cost to our community. There is another option!
The Sunbury Neighbourhood Association is looking forward to working with The Greater Vancouver Gateway Council to plan an infrastructure that allows for the movement of goods to and from our federally mandated ports and the rest of Canada, while protecting our community with its deep, rich heritage, archeological importance and irreplaceable habitat. We would also like to have the answers to the following questions:
o How many homes/businesses would be expropriated and what is the expropriation process?
o How many would suffer what most would consider to be “unacceptable” noise/visual impacts and how can these possibly be mitigated?
o What other major inconveniences would people suffer and to what extent?
Corporation of Delta has recently published a Heritage Passport focused on the communities of Sunbury and Annieville. (6.3Mg PDF - large file - slow to open)