RD submits heritage sites

RD commissions three Statements of Significance for historic sites.

PORT McNEILL—The Regional District of Mount Waddington announced this week it has commissioned three Statements of Significance for historic sites that will likely become the first additions to the RD’s formal heritage registry.

Alco steam locomotive 113 and the Hornsby steam crawler are not included among the properties, though both pieces of historical equipment await only a final resolution on their display locations and could well be included later in the year.

“My hope is by the end of the year there will be five sites on the registry,” Neil Smith, director of economic development, said Tuesday. “And that will start the process of protecting these properties.”

The sites commissioned this week include the Woss Lookout fire-spotting tower, sponsored by a provincial and local community initiative for historic fire lookouts, and the Quatsino Church and Quatsino School, both of which were initially submitted for consideration in 2004, before the RDMW had established its registry.

Smith credited the work of Denise Cook, a specialist in statements of significance who has previously submitted work for the District of Kitmat Stikine heritage service, in securing the statements for the properties.

“It is my hope these three statements will set the standard for how this service operates for years to come,” said Smith. “This will give us an idea of how the process will work in the future. It’s all new for everybody here on the North Island.”

The Woss lookout is located within Electoral Area D, one of two signatories to the heritage registry established by the RDMW Board of Directors in 2011. The Quatsino church and school reside in Area C, the other member of the registry.

Unlike those permanent structures, the Alco locomotive 113 and Hornsby crawler are portable heritage pieces. Both were secured by the regional district only after challenges from outside entities — the Alberni Valley Heritage Society sought the steam locomotive claimed by the Woss Community Association, and a private collector in Surrey held the Hornsby for several years before being forced by court order to return it to North Vancouver Island last summer.

Their statements of significance have already been completed, Smith said, and both could be on the verge of resolutions on their final resting places, pending final approval of tenure and proposals.

Woss has been approved for grants that would fund the 2.79-hectare Woss Living Heritage Park, which would have the Alco 113 steam locomotive as its centrepiece and would also include picnic and play areas, an interpretive kiosk, viewing deck and parking, with the potential future addition of trail development and other heritage placements. It awaits only approval of tenure, which has been submitted to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources office in Nanaimo.

In Area C, the Coal Harbour Community Club has already transferred tenure to the RD for property that could house the Hornsby steam crawler, a 100-year-old tracked forbearer to todays tanks and bulldozers. Its proposal has been accepted by the Regional District of Mount Waddington and, with additional amendments citing a timeline for site preparation, will go before the North Island Heritage Society at its AGM today at the RDMW office in Port McNeill.

The timeline, forwarded by Area C Director Andrew Hory, indicates Coal Harbour would be prepared to display the Hornsby by Sept. 15 in a renovated facility that is currently vacant but once housed the Coal Harbour Community Hall.

“Hopefully, if this timeline is approved by the NIHS, the main hurdles of going forward will be fundraising,” Hory said in his amendment submission. “The lack of a firm commitment regarding the Hornsby’s final resting place in Coal Harbour has made effective fundraising difficult. Once the location is clarified, I am confident that the six months for completion of phase one is more than enough time.