New West Heritage Advocates Recognized

Reprinted from the New Westminster Record story by Theresa McManus, published June 10, 2022.

Heritage BC recently recognized the efforts of heritage advocates in British Columbia – including two New West men.

Each year, Heritage BC gives out a number of awards to celebrate achievements in heritage across the province. Awards were recently given out in seven categories: lifetime achievement; conservation; education, communications and awareness; planning and management; distinguished service; Indigenous and diverse cultures; and best COVID-19 pivot.

Longtime New West resident Jim Wolf received the Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of his decades of efforts in Burnaby, New Westminster and beyond.

Catherine Hutson, a director with the heritage preservation society, said Wolf is a “true heritage enthusiast” whose name is synonymous with New Westminster’s history and heritage.

“We cannot imagine a heritage movement in New Westminster without Jim Wolf’s years of guidance, vision and wisdom,” she said.

Wolf said he was touched by the fact that his two hometowns jointly submitted his name for the award.

“Burnaby is my hometown. I grew up in Burnaby. I essentially lived there my whole life. I grew up in the Edmonds area. But if you are an Edmonds kid, you are a New West kid; because New West was our downtown. It was where we went,” he told the Record. “In so many ways, my hometown is both Burnaby and New Westminster.”

Wolf’s contributions to heritage issues include work as a city planner, an author, a historian, a researcher and a community volunteer. Although he’s retired from his day job, he’s got many heritage-related projects on the go.

“Jim Wolf is both an exceptional heritage sector volunteer and a professional planner. He has been the leader, mentor, and support for countless community projects in both New Westminster and Burnaby, as well as around the Metro Vancouver region,” said the Heritage BC profile.

“A Lifetime Achievement Award is certainly fitting for Jim, who works so hard to make local histories and community voices heard.”

The City of Burnaby – where Wolf worked as a planner until his retirement in 2021 – nominated him for the award. New West heritage advocates were thrilled to support his nomination.

“Jim has a wealth of information, and we are all the better informed because of him” said Kathleen Langstroth, past director of the New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society. “As a past director of the NWHPS, I can speak personally on how he helped us out on many occasions with colourful and joyful presentations that always drew a crowd!”

“That’s why I was a little shocked with the Lifetime Achievement Award because it’s like, ‘wait a minute, it’s not over yet,’” he laughed.

Wolf said it was heartwarming to receive the award as he knows there are many people worthy of being recognized by Heritage BC.

“I used to sit on the awards committee way back in the 1990s when I was a director of Heritage BC, and we’d have to make these decisions about who was deserving. So I know the work that is involved with making those decisions, and sometimes they are not easy,” he said. “It’s humbling for sure.”

Heritage BC also recognized longtime New West resident and heritage advocate Steve North with a Distinguished Service Award. He received the award posthumously, as he died in November 2021.

“Steve had an infectious energy when it came to heritage. He immersed himself into many community projects in New Westminster, and was no stranger to advocacy; he believed in making heritage accessible, and worked effectively through public collaboration and consultation,” said Heritage BC’s statement. “It is appropriate that he is being recognized for his many contributions.”

North’s contributions included serving as director of the New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society.

“Steve was a much valued director and subsequent president – willing to meet with politicians and ensure they understood the ‘heritage position’ and remind them of how important retaining heritage properties and neighbourhoods is to the residents and the people who annually attended the annual homes tour,” said NWHPS past-president Maureen Arvanitidis in a statement to the Record.

The New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society nominated North for the award.

“Steve had a real passion for the city’s heritage and was truly engaged in the community – he cared deeply about heritage preservation for future generations,” said NWHPS president Deane Gurney. “He knew what we had in this city was special.”

North’s wife Gail was given a special time allotment to accept Steve’s award, virtually, on his behalf.

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus

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