On March 2nd, the Mission Community Heritage Commission will recommend to District Council that a Community Heritage Register be established for Mission. Members of the public are invited to attend the presentation at Council Chambers at 6:30 pm to show their support.
A Heritage Register is an official list of properties identified as having special heritage value or character. Recommended for the initial register will be Fraser River Heritage Park, the Mission Museum building, the Mission Memorial Centre (old hospital), Silverhill Hall, and the Powerhouse at Stave Falls.
A three month process of research, community consultation, and discussion forums organized by Sharon Syrette, the Project Manager, has resulted in a more comprehensive understanding of the history of these sites, and why they are important to our community. Each has contributed to our history in a unique way. Each is valued in different ways.
However, the overwhelming common feature is the pride that is felt toward these places. Each one was built, maintained, and managed through the dedication of local volunteers. At Silverhill Hall, for example, “the 3rd generation of descendants from the original builders is still involved,” including the Lowe family who donated the land where the hall was constructed in 1919.
Money was raised locally to build these facilities, and to restore them so that they can continue to be used by citizens today. This is exemplified by the Mission Memorial Centre, the former Mission Memorial Hospital (1924-1965). It “opened in 1924 debt-free” due to the tremendous fundraising efforts of local citizens who “didn’t look to government in the same way they do; they went ahead and raised the money, got the job done.” In the 1970’s the building was rehabilitated and managed by the Mission Memorial Centre Society (1973-1988) “to serve a variety of community purposes while maintaining the building’s historic and cultural value.”
The new Heritage Register will allow municipal planning staff to monitor any proposed changes to the properties, which can further benefit the local community. Research has proven that listed heritage properties can enhance property values and contribute to the creation of a unique neighbourhood ambience. The fastest growing sector of tourism is “cultural tourism” which includes a growing interest in historic buildings and the persons associated with them.