Sunday, November 30, 2008

Heritage, Politcs and... You

Without an understanding of the link between the town’s heritage and its economic life, heritage can be presented politically as a divisive factor. That will not put food on the table.

In Prince Albert, we have wide open spaces that other small towns can envy, outsiders wander our streets and marvel at our buildings, and people show a friendliness which extends to strangers. Together, all these factors have contributed to peaceful co-existence, job creation, and food on the table.

When we see our town through the eyes of visitors we can appreciate what we have. To put the above into context, the entire community can be grateful for the significant heritage which the town has inherited. We are blessed with a diverse historical townscape, unlike other towns in which architectural treasures have been demolished to make way for more modern buildings..
In Prince Albert, the creation of new jobs depends largely on the initiative of the more affluent homeowners, in that old buildings have to be carefully maintained and restored, using the skills of local craftsmen, and funded – often at great expense – by the owners.

Higher rates received from restored buildings assist the municipality to provide jobs locally. ‘Poverty alleviation’ piece work may be one of the benefits. More employment for hundreds of builders, farm workers and gardeners and those who manage the furrow system has been created by the protection of Prince Albert's rich agricultural legacy and its historical agricultural resource. Therefore high value should be placed on the town's heritage and cultural resources.

The town’s economic well-being depends to a great extent on a vibrant tourism sector, and:

the heritage drawcard which brings South African and international tourists to Prince Albert;
the quality and service provided by the guest houses, which employ hundreds of local people, and enables local business to thrive.

Within the municipal structure there is the Heritage and Building Committee – whose work is to advise on the conservation of heritage and development. The Council should be complimented for funding the Heritage Survey currently being carried out by the Prince Albert Cultural Foundation.

Remember, heritage puts food on the table – it is important that we understand the link. Where a town's inhabitants stand together to protect its assets, a flourishing community life is assured.

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