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Belcarra cabin residents win heritage support from council

Jo Ledginham, a resident of one of the Belcarra south cabins, would like to stay and have the buildings designated as a heritage site. - DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Jo Ledginham, a resident of one of the Belcarra south cabins, would like to stay and have the buildings designated as a heritage site.
— image credit: DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

Port Moody council gave Belcarra South cabin dwellers some hope Tuesday when it agreed to look further into the heritage aspect of seven cottages in the regional park.

The cottages are slated for demolition to make way for an expanded picnic area, but councillors approved a statement of significance for the cottages, saying they represent a "bygone way of life."

"Designating these cottages on our heritage register is not as much about the buildings as it is about preserving a lifestyle that used to be common in this area," said Coun. Gerry Nuttall, who suggested that Metro Vancouver may be overestimating the cost of restoring the buildings to justify knocking them down to make way for an expanded picnic area and trail.

Eight people are currently renting the cabins at $500 a month, although they are responsible for maintenance and upkeep. The residents have lived there for many years, some since the 1960s, and say the area has historical significance and should be retained.

Council appears to have sided with the renters, voting to support the draft Belcarra South Cottages Statement of Significance and add these properties to the city's heritage register, after getting a review from a heritage consultant.

WORK WITH METRO VAN

As well, city staff will work with Metro Vancouver on exploring the heritage potential of the site. However, in October, the Metro Vancouver board approved the original plan to demolish the cabins and expand the park and Port Moody's efforts may be a long shot.

"This may not be perfect but at least we're doing something," said Mayor Mike Clay.

Meanwhile, another heritage heavyweight has come to the aid of the cabin dwellers. Michael Kluckner, a former Heritage Canada chair and author of books, such as Vanishing Vancouver, said in an email to councillors that the community could be a Belcarra Regional Park feature as a self-managed, historic community.

"The loss of this cottage community will be irreversible; its replacement by more picnic area will diminish Belcarra as a historic teaching landscape and create only a minuscule improvement in the public recreation component of the park," Kluckner stated.

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

 

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