Port Moody could have a real tourist draw if a heritage village with a green theme was established on the Ioco lands.
All that’s needed is some gumption, a willingness to work together and — a little shocking in these divided political times in PoMo — maybe some compromise for this nearly two-decade-old dream to become a reality.
Burnaby has a successful, popular attracting in the Burnaby Village Museum, where buildings have been lovingly restored and show what life was like at the turn of the century.
A similar but even more unique village portraying life in a company town could be created in the Tri-Cities if the city of Port Moody, Gilic Global Development Management Inc., Imperial Oil and the Port Moody Heritage Society were willing to reach an accord that would allow such a project to happen.
It would mean the land owners dedicating some land but, with the city holding a lot of sway in any future development, this could possibly be offered as an amenity contribution in exchange for density, clearly a controversial issue with the current council. But to achieve the goal, the developer would have to put up land and would need to see some benefit in the long run.
Other compromises would have to be made as well.
Heritage advocates might have to compromise on the final vision of the village, which might not be as comprehensive as originally intended; i.e., not all buildings could be saved and some would have to be moved. And a new society might have to be established for fundraising and seeing through the heritage restoration.
There would also need to be a green transportation plan, bringing people to the site with as little congestion and greenhouse gas emissions as possible, while the restoration would have to be done in a sustainable manner.
Imagine a historic company town with interpretive exhibits showing the transition from oil to green electricity, hydro, geothermal, solar, wind — all in one place. The shuttered Burrard Thermal and the history of BC Hydro could all be entwined in this museum. Why not tell future generations where we came from and where we are going?
On the other hand, there is plenty to lose if action isn’t taken soon.
For despite efforts being made by Gilic, those buildings won’t last forever without more work on them and the longer it takes, the less people will care.
Currently, there is a groundswell of support for the preservation of the Ioco buildings, led by centenarian and longtime resident Mary Ann Cooper, and it would be nice to get some agreement on a plan for Cooper’s sake and those who are working with her to raise the issue.
A restored Ioco townsite with a green theme could be a model for museums of the future.