Nova Scotians are one step closer to having a comprehensive strategy to protect, preserve and promote what they value most in their heritage. The Voluntary Planning Task Force on Heritage presented its final report to government today, Dec. 14. The report, based on extensive public consultation, contains 59 recommendations for government to consider as it develops a heritage strategy. Len Goucher, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, thanked the Federation of Nova Scotian Heritage, Voluntary Planning and the 11 volunteer members of the task force for their work. “I’m truly impressed by the effort that has gone into this report,” said Mr. Goucher. “Everyone who had something to say about the future of Nova Scotia’s heritage has taken the opportunity to say it, and the task force has listened. The response has been amazing, reinforcing the fact that Nova Scotians care deeply about our heritage.” The report’s broad definition of heritage includes natural and cultural heritage and encompasses a broad range of topics such as museums and archives, heritage buildings, education and promotion, sustainable forestry, wilderness areas and nature reserves, cemeteries, underwater heritage and heritage workers. The report stresses that heritage is a shared responsibility and makes recommendations that touch on many levels of government, government departments, groups and agencies, as well as individuals, families and businesses. As the lead department, Tourism, Culture and Heritage will review the recommendations in detail to identify priorities, and consult with others to ensure the heritage strategy includes, or complements, their work. A strategy is expected by the fall of 2007. Mr. Goucher said the report is an important first step in the process. “We know there are challenges and opportunities in our heritage sector and that’s why we commissioned this report,” he said. “Nova Scotia is blessed with a rich natural and cultural heritage. We’re now in an excellent position to develop a strategy that will build upon existing programs, legislation and partnerships. The strategy will guide future investments so we can make the best use of our heritage resources, and, above all, it will be based on what Nova Scotians have told us they want.” The heritage report, entitled Our Heritage Future: A Shared Responsibility, is available at www.gov.ns.ca/vp .