On July 5, 2017, the Minister of Culture and Communications, Mr. Luc Fortin, recommended the recognition of the heritage site of Arvida by the Government of Québec, the highest level of heritage recognition and protection of the province.
The Arvida heritage site in the process of being declared
In 2013, Saguenay applied with the Culture and Communications Ministry of Québec for the recognition of Arvida as a heritage site under the Cultural Heritage Act. The legal status corresponds to former Heritage boroughs under the Cultural property Act (replaced in 2012 by the Cultural Heritage Act) and involves conservation measures aiming to enhance knowledge, promotion and transmission of the urban and architectural ensemble, as well as its history, which are of national public interest.
Saguenay has stated that Arvida’s interest resides, under the terms of the Government of Québec, in the urban, architectural, technological, identity, historical, iconic ethnological and landscape value of the town. More specifically, the application submitted by the City has put forward the following characteristics:
- The urban plan, emerging from a unique summary of worldwide trends and local environment, which planning was elaborated from a conceptually and graphically original design, reflected in the street mapping, parcel distribution, as well as diverse sequencing of built and green landscapes.
- The workers’ housing, especially diverse and egalitarian, made of single-family homes built from 125 standard designs made to accommodate not only specialized staff and executives, but also all workers.
- The architecture of the institutional buildings and industrial infrastructures, reflecting on engineering demonstration and unique creativity, particularly in terms of neo-vernacular architecture.
- The structured and innovative construction site, which prevailed to the city’s development; having indeed benefited from wood framing construction to standardize pre-cut architectural components, simply assembled on each plot.
- History of the “Aluminum capital of the World”, prime example of a characteristic 20th Century industrial civilization human settlement as well as the use of natural resources that gave life to the province of Québec as we know it today.
Compared to other classified heritage sites of Québec, such as the Old Québec historical District, Arvida is characterized by its size and the number of separate owners it brings together. However, the preservation of single components from the architectural, urban and landscape elements, such as over 37 hectares of green spaces, would not be as meaningful or complete. The issue of the Arvidian heritage is indeed one of urban management, involving economical development, preservation techniques, urban planning, social participation, valorization, information and communication: the territory is inhabited and appropriated, its transmission is a social and cultural issue. That is why Saguenay and its partners hope to repeat the long-standing collaboration with provincial authorities for the protection, promotion, knowledge and acknowledgement of Arvida: its heritage being not only for todays’ Arvidians, but also for everyone, in the province of Québec and elsewhere, that wishes to be its bearer or legatee.