The historic Craigflower Manor and Schoolhouse historic sites, in View Royal and Saanich respectively, are expected to undergo big changes as the province looks to move away from having them operate as money-losing museums.
For a decade the two sites, sitting on either side of the Craigflower bridge, were operated by The Land Conservancy as museums. That organization handed them both back to the province earlier this year.
The government this week said it is seeking expressions of interest from organizations to ensure the “financial viability and self-sufficiency of the lands.”
“We want (the sites) to become one big recreational landscape in the midst of these communities. It has real potential – we see this as an opportunity to rejuvenate the cultural landscape,” said Richard Linzey, manager of heritage programs with the province’s heritage branch. “How can we take these historic sites and move them into the 21st century, both visually and functionally?”
Linzey said while the province has no fixed ideas on what the sites could become, there’s a strict process to evaluate the expressions of interest, to ensure the heritage value of the sites isn’t lost.
“We have a mandate under the Heritage Conservation Act to manage the heritage values, that’ll be front and centre when we’re looking at these proposals,” he said.
As an example, Linzey suggested the manor could become the headquarters for a group that teaches food security or backyard gardening.
“What I like about that example is that it interprets the heritage value of Craigflower Manor real well in a modern idiom,” he said.
Up until this year, the province was contributing $80,000 per year toward upkeep and maintenance of the sites, and TLC was spending donor dollars on the sites as well.
“We simply can’t afford to manage them on behalf of the province anymore,” Alastair Craighead, chair of TLC board, told the News in January. “Our donations are precious and we really want to apply them to lands we own.”
Craighead suggested the sites become community venues for events instead of museums.
Organizations have until August 19 to submit expressions of interest
Linzey hopes to have the new Craigflower sites in operation by the time the bridge replacement project is complete in December.
– with files from Charla Huber