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McLeod: Heritage preservation helps us build a better city

April 18, 2018
Jonathan McLeod, Ottawa Sun

There was, perhaps, the most minor of international incidents in Ottawa the other day as the city’s built-heritage subcommittee denied approval for the Ugandan High Commission to demolish a low-rise apartment building. The building is in bad shape, needing expensive repairs if it is to be salvaged.

It was home to Lester B. Pearson for a few years, during which time he won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it’s within a heritage district — and the city is planning/thinking/talking about creating a Prime Ministers Row, and it’ll be a part of that.

So we have a bit of a quandary; should we err on the side of world peace and let the building be bulldozed? Is heritage preservation important? Are we just being needlessly sentimental?

The issue isn’t really about this one building, or the neglect it has suffered. It’s a question of why we worry about heritage preservation at all.

The city says it “conserves significant cultural heritage resources to celebrate, revitalize, stabilize and enhance the community as well as to contribute to its physical, social, cultural and economic development.”

That’s a lot of words, but little clarity. How about this: Heritage preservation helps us build a better city.

It’s not about serving the past, or even the present. Heritage preservation must serve our future.

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