Heritage Sector Response to COVID-19: Join the Movement

While the health of Canadians and efforts to flatten the curve remain a priority, it’s also essential to ensure that the people who care for historic places and work in this sector are not forgotten, and that plans for recovery investments are informed by knowledge of the powerful role heritage and historic places can play. Almost 500 people representing heritage organizations, historic sites, heritage industry leaders and government agencies participated in the first two ‘gatherings of the heritage sector’ hosted by the National Trust earlier this month.

Listen to the recordings: Session 1 explored impacts for heritage charities, sites and nonprofits, followed by session 2, a conversation with industry leaders co-hosted with the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals.

Check out our summary of concerns and ideas shared about weathering and recovering from this unprecedented global shutdown:

  • Now, more than ever, we need to clearly make the case for heritage.
  • There is a need for the heritage sector – NGOs, conservation industry, professionals etc. – to work together to ensure the heritage voice is heard.
  • We need a national strategy for heritage, and we also need tools like federal tax measures for heritage rehab to spur Canada’s economic recovery.
  • Many historic places are now closed. There is a concern about loss of revenue, especially during the coming tourism season. There is an additional concern that historic places will experiences losses long after the doors are reopen.
  • Funding from programs like Young Canada Works is now more important than ever. There will be a greater need for government funding for youth employment coming out of this pandemic.
  • There are concerns about heritage development projects caught up in economic challenges and bankruptcies. Also concerns that most Municipal Heritage Advisory committees have been suspended across Canada, and yet development permit processing continues.
  • There are concerns that self-isolation will have a particularly negative impact on places of faith, many of which have precarious finances.
  • There are questions about how we can support and sustain heritage main streets, particularly in small communities across Canada.  Many small businesses on traditional main streets are in heritage buildings; they will be especially hard hit by this pandemic.
  • Fostering local resiliency will be a key driver after the pandemic, and the heritage sector can emphasize the value of heritage projects as they  typically use local materials and labour.
  • Recovery stimulus funding must distributed and managed in a manner such that historic buildings and downtowns not be unintended casualties of infrastructure and redevelopment projects
  • The heritage sector needs to partner much more closely with the decision makers in the tourism, education and environmental sectors to make its voice heard and to position itself to play a powerful positive role during the recovery.


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