03 - Beyond Built Heritage: A Conversation About the Spaces, People, and Events that Shape Heritage.

On The Table

May 20 2022 • 52 mins

Ron Ulrich hosts an insightful conversation around heritage and what it means. He digs deep into built heritage and the places, communities, and events that shape heritage and preserve it through change. Joining him for the conversation are Ian O’Donnell, Executive Director at Bow Valley Builders and Developers Association, Elana Zysblat, Heritage Consultant with CAHP, and Tony Snow, Aboriginal Relations and Management Consultant.

Tony Snow addresses the differences between the Indigenous stewardship of environments and the Western societal commodification of land, and how heritage and history are affected when knowledge is lost during change in built environments. Elana Zysblat elaborates on how viewing environments through a lens that’s less about commodification and more about tradition and understanding through story is part of the conversation necessary for preserving heritage. Ian O’Donnell notes that a variety of perspectives are required to ensure best use of land and more voices need to be at the table for those discussions.

The group explores authenticity in truth and reconciliation, identities based in land and place, how heritage conservation also requires that change be part of the stated values, and how the evolution of built spaces can contribute to shared community and heritage. The thoughtful conversation explores real issues of sustainability, climate change, preservation of heritage spaces, and decolonization of some of the ways things are done. It is a shared responsibility to ensure development doesn’t erase community and heritage.

About the Guests:

Ian O’Donnell:

As someone passionate about community building, fostering partnerships and exploring creative solutions to difficult challenges, Ian O’Donnell genuinely cares about people, places and the experience of an area and its residents.

Over the last decade and a half, Ian has focused his career and volunteerism on uplifting urban places. Whether serving as Vice President of his community league for nearly ten years, sitting on civic boards to advocate for more resources and a stronger commitment to the area, or finding new ways to create awareness for our member businesses, Ian is committed to positive change. Community is at the heart of what he does and how he approaches his work and life. A successful partnership requires dedication, communication and an openness to listen to those who work, live, shop and govern an area.

Elana Zysblat:

Elana Zysblat is an accomplished heritage consultant and educational program developer with expertise in heritage conservation, cultural tourism, and community engagement. Her firm’s professional motto “Meaningfully Connecting People and Places” stems from her professional focus & interest first and foremost in people, and our connection to place. Although technically a building specialist, Elana believes that robust, relevant and sustainable use are as important in heritage conservation planning as preserving brick and mortar.

Formerly the Programming Director for the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, Elana’s practice as an independent consultant since 2011 has reached all areas of British Columbia. Her firm, Ance Building Services, provides heritage conservation planning services as well as support, education, training and workshops for local governments, Indigenous communities and Heritage Commissions. Elana is the current President of the BC Association of Heritage Professionals.

Tony Snow:

Tony Snow is a Senior Aboriginal Relations and Strategic Communications consultant with over 14 years of experience as a communications expert, environmental technician, regulatory coordinator, policy analyst and government/industry relations liaison. He is a former Director of Communications, Stoney Tribal Administration. He has assisted First Nations across Canada to develop environmental and socio-economic strategies to address resource development on traditional and reserve lands. He has provided Aboriginal Consultation advisory services, project management, risk management analysis and project coordination to support Aboriginal consultation, involvement and sustainability strategies for seismic, pipeline, transmission, hydro and oilsands projects in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

Resources discussed in this episode:


The Canmore Museum: website | facebook | instagram | linkedin

Ian O’Donnell | Executive Director at Bow Valley Builders and Developers Association website | linkedin

Elana Zysblat | Heritage Consultant, Ance Building Services: website | CAHP: website | linkedin

Tony Snow | Aboriginal Relations and Management Consultant: linkedin

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