Calgary

Province folds up Alberta historical preservation body in bid to save money

Members of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation have been told their services are no longer needed.

Foundation work to be taken over by department of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women

The province has absorbed the responsibilities of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation into the department of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

Members of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation have been told their services aren't needed anymore.

The province has absorbed the responsibilities of the arm's-length group into the department of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, cutting loose its 13-member board and reducing the budget for preservation grants by eight per cent.

"As part of our red tape reduction, we are eliminating unnecessary processes and reducing spending across government," said Danielle Murray, press secretary to the minister, in an email to CBC News.

She said the work done by the organization will now be done by department staff. 

"We've been assured that, in terms of the granting programs, that that work is going to continue, and we certainly hope that that's the case," said Maki Motapanyane, former chair of the group.

But in addition to doling out grants, Motapanyane says, the foundation was tasked with preserving and raising awareness about the province's heritage.

Calgary Heritage Authority executive director Josh Traptow says the eight per cent reduction in the Heritage Preservation Partnership Program has him worried.

"For some property owners, that might impact their decision as to whether or not they would consider designating [their building] as a municipal historic resource, especially for, say, more rural property owners or in small towns," he said.

He says heritage funding was already stretched thin in Alberta.

Traptow says having public members on the board was a good thing. When he served on the board a few years ago, he was paid a small honorarium, Traptow says, so he's not sure how folding the group into the ministry saves money. 

"It's confusing and I'm not really understanding why they have taken this step when they could have, you know, made it a purely voluntary service on that organization, which I'm sure everyone on that board would have done."

With files from Helen Pike

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