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City sets course for Steveston heritage

Steveston would join heritage ranks that include the Great Wall of China and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia if a bid to add the fishing village to UNESCO’s World Heritage List succeeds. -
Steveston would join heritage ranks that include the Great Wall of China and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia if a bid to add the fishing village to UNESCO’s World Heritage List succeeds.
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The city is forging ahead with a bid to earn world heritage status for Steveston.

Council voted unanimously Monday to take the first step, by preparing an application for National Historic Site designation at a cost of $20,000. If Ottawa approves, federal officials must then agree to add Steveston Village to Canada's tentative list of sites seeking a more prestigious world designation managed by a United Nations agency known as UNESCO.

The World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recognizes over 900 places around the world for cultural or natural significance.

According to the city, seven sites are already in Canada's queue for the UNESCO designation. City council heard UNESCO will only consider one application per year from Canada.

That, along with at least two years of work in preparing a nomination, means the road to the world heritage designation is a long one.

But Coun. Bill McNulty said it's "critical" for Steveston to remain a historical village.

"I think the historical plan we have doesn't necessarily allow it to remain in its original state, and I don't think people understand the significance of Steveston in the history of British Columbia."

Steveston, said McNulty, is fast losing its historical sites to redevelopment.

"We've got to try and retain the character," he said. “I think it's absolutely critical that we look for something with regard to preserving the character of Steveston and bringing more and more to it, because I believe it's a gem."

Richmond resident Peter Mitchell told council Monday he believes the city should have made the push a decade ago, following the success of the 2002 Tall Ships Festival. It's still worth investigating, he said, but added it will be more challenging now, as many other areas are vying for UNESCO honours.

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