I was pleased to be invited to a Christmas gathering of Oak Bay Heritage volunteers at the 1912 home of Jean Sparks, well known local heritage authority and volunteer archivist extraordinaire. As the new Council Liaison to Heritage and Culture, this was my first opportunity to meet what I soon learned is a group of skilled, dedicated and passionate indiviuals committed to preserving Oak Bay history and heritage.
I believe, like others, that Oak Bay heritage is at an important crossroads with the recent formation of a new Heritage Commission that consolidates in one entity the former Heritage Committee and Heritage Panel. In my experience, a Municipal Commission provides better opportunities for volunteers to have greater influence on the work and on heritage-related decisions of Mayor and Council.
A Commission can also help provide greater focus on developing a strategic plan for heritage that identifies short and long term future goals, including:
- recruitment, skill sets and deployment of volunteer resources;
- succession planning to provide continuity for a strong and effective Commission; and,
- financial planning that includes new ways of promoting heritage, educating residents and developing partnerships for new revenue sources that support the work.
These are just a few of the ideas that I hope to pursue in the New Year as Council Liaison for Oak Bay Heritage. I have a lot to learn and I am pleased that there are so many volunteers with great expertise in Oak Bay history and heritage who will help guide and orient me to this work. Thanks to Jean Sparks for opening her wonderful home and to Patricia Wilson who extended the invitation on behalf of the former Heritage Committee.