Your community’s growth depends upon its ability to predict issues before they occur. But in order to understand the future, you also need to understand the past. One way you can continue to understand the past is by preserving it for future generations. Communities can protect the buildings, landscapes and areas that define their character and sense of place.Unfortunately, the tricky part is when the need to progress into the future conflicts with the need to preserve the past. London, Ontario provides a recent example, where a new bus rapid transit system could impact over sixty sites with potential cultural and historical value, causing the transit system to be delayed until the sites can be appraised.
One of the biggest challenges when dealing with the heritage properties in your community is their age. Inevitably, without proper upkeep, these once beautiful properties can become eyesores for the local community. When that happens it becomes even more difficult to convince citizens that these sites deserve to be saved. Not only that, it often turns into a subjective discussion about what sites merit cultural or historical significance. A house that a famous or influential Londoner once lived in, for example, might not matter much to a person who doesn’t think the influential figure did much for London.
But maintaining historical properties isn’t just about preserving the look of your community. There are also tangible economic benefits to these sites. Repairing and maintaining historical sites helps the workforce by creating jobs. A healthy respect for cultural and historical sites can also help build community character and help drive tourism. The Ontario government determined in a study that the arts, culture and heritage of a place are key “destination enhancers,” meaning that these aspects of a municipality are a key consideration for tourists when picking a destination. In other words, not only do heritage sites attract tourists themselves, but they also increase the likelihood of tourists choosing to visit your municipality over another in the first place.
Tax Surveys Show Where the Public Support for Preserving Heritage Properties Can Be Found
The only way you can be sure that citizens want to protect heritage properties (even at the cost of delaying or complicating a new transit system, as in the case of London, Ontario) is to ask them.
The Tax Sensitivity Calculator™ from MDB Insight is a tax survey that can show you exactly where citizens’ interests align with what they are willing to put their tax dollars toward. Knowing this cuts the guesswork from balancing citizen interests with the interests of municipal heritage, and the economic benefits thereof. Knowing exactly, with statistically significant data, what is valued by your citizens can help your heritage preservation strategy immensely.
Predict your future while showing respect to the past: