City will seek heritage commission members in the fall

By on August 11, 2017
One of many commemorative plaques that mark historic buildings around town. (Michael Potestio/Herald)

The City of Merritt will renew efforts to establish a heritage commission this fall despite a lack of interest from the community.

In March, Coun. Linda Brown asked that a heritage commission be re-established, which council approved, but on July 25, city staff sought council’s direction on how to proceed after failing to fill the seats required under the the heritage commission bylaw.

“Maybe try again in September, or just put it to bed and try in January of next year, maybe with little bit more information on what we’re looking for,” said Coun. Mike Goetz at the meeting.

Back in May, Coun. Brown was appointed council’s representative on the commission and staff were directed to find representatives from the Nicola Valley Museum, Nicola Valley Heritage Society and Merritt Seniors Citizens Association as well as two members of the public to round out the group.

However, just one of two spots for community members has been filled to date and the city didn’t hear back from the museum.

At the July 25 council meeting, Coun. Ginny Prowal moved that council rescind the bylaw in light of the lack of interest, but that motion was defeated by her fellow members of council.

“I’m not prepared to rescind the bylaw,” said Coun. Diana Norgaard. “I’m thinking along the same lines as councillor Goetz that we let it go for now and we look at amending the bylaw.”

Norgaard also said she didn’t like the idea of mandating groups to participate in the committee.

Council then unanimously approved a motion from Brown to advertise for the required missing members of the heritage commission this fall or in 2018 and — depending on the interest expressed — prepare an amendment to the bylaw eliminating mandated organizational membership.

This commission is unlike a standing or select committee as it is governed via a bylaw whereas the committees have terms of reference and are governed by the committee policy, City of Merritt deputy clerk Carole Fraser told the Herald. The commission existed under previous councils, but hasn’t reconvened this term, Fraser said. The heritage commission is typically responsible for recognizing old buildings with commemorative plaques.

“They also were very involved with attending and promoting heritage week, which is actually a proclamation by the federal government and they would plan things around that,” said Fraser.

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