8th World Conference of Historical Cities
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Day 1 — Monday October 6, 2003
Opening Ceremonies

 

Participants were first invited to share welcome cocktails. Michel Gariépy, Chair of the Société de développement de Montréal, spoke about the role that this development corporation has played, and continues to play, in the revitalization of Old Montréal and in real-estate development of abandoned urban areas. “Like any real-estate firm, the Société is in the business of buying and selling property. What sets it apart is an ability to see, in old neighbourhoods, what jewels may grow from conversion of an abandoned or rundown building, or one designed for a purpose that no longer exists; the capacity to visualize what new neighbourhoods might emerge on a site previously occupied by vacant, contaminated lot. It is about waiting for the opportune moment and the right project to guarantee sustainable development.” Mr. Gariépy added that “When the City of Montréal agreed to host this Conference, it quite naturally entrusted us with its organization,” before wishing one and all an excellent conference.

 

Opening CeremoniesOpening Ceremonies
Opening Ceremonies Yorikane Masumoto, the Mayor of Kyoto and Chairperson of the League of Historical Cities, stood under the vaulted ceiling of the Bonsecours Market building ballroom and officially inaugurated the 8th Conference, declaring that “Promotion of multilateral exchanges among historical cities, outside State frameworks, is an extremely effective system that ensures open dialogue and encourages the formation of constructive ideas and useful recommendations.”
Considering them as being “closer to the people,” Mr. Masumoto called upon local governments to help make the city a more attractive and friendly place to be by working in concert with citizens and community groups. He reminded participants that the Conference, besides welcoming municipal elected officials and administrators, would also benefit from the active presence of experts who could nurture shared reflections and discussions. Lastly, he invited delegates to capitalize on the presence of Axumite Gebre-Egziabher, Director of the New York City office of UN-HABITAT (United Nations Human Settlements Programme), to think about implementing true collaboration among historical cities, UN organizations, and international networks committed to exchange and solidarity. Yorikane Masumoto
Gérald Tremblay The host of the Conference, Montréal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, spoke of the thousands of years of collective human experience represented at this gathering, and underscored the paramount role that cities have played throughout history and will continue to play in the future. As engines for the development of civilization and global awareness (think of Kyoto, whose traditionally concern for ecological awareness is now embodied in the protocol that bears its name), “Cities can and should rely on memory to make enlightened choices. They must see to the development of their communities by looking to the future in a way that always acknowledges that memory of the past.”
Dinu Bumbaru

Recalling recent devastation in cities such as Baghdad and Dubrovnik, partly destroyed by armed conflict, Dinu Bumbaru, Secretary General of ICOMOS, criticized the devastation — more subtle but just as radical — wreaked in cities that cannot resist the urge to rebuild again and again. Inviting conference delegates to choose the route of accumulation of heritage initiatives and “sustainable” enrichment of urban culture, Mr. Bumbaru noted that “Cities are doubtless the greatest of humanity’s works, but at the same time the most complex. And it is precisely because they are so complicated that preserving them is so rewarding!”

http://www.icomos.org/

Axumite Gebre-Egziabher, Director of the New York City office of UN-HABITAT (United Nations Human Settlements Programme), noted that today, October 6, 2003, date of the Conference opening, was also World Habitat Day, and took the opportunity to deliver a message from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan about water resources and public health in urban areas. Noting that 90% of worldwide population growth over the next 15 years will be absorbed into urban areas, Ms. Gebre-Egziabher urged delegates to be just as mindful of the health and welfare of their citizens as they are of heritage site preservation.

http://www.unhabitat.org/

Axumite Gebre-Egziabher
Monique Gagnon-Tremblay Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, Deputy Premier of Québec and Minister of International Relations, spoke about Montréal’s cultural and historical role, the exponential development it has undergone since the days of Mayor Jean Drapeau, and its opening up to the world through such events as Expo 67, the 1976 Summer Olympics and the Floralies exhibition, and urged the assembled delegates to “conserve heritage for the good of all humankind.”
Lastly, Helen Fotopulos, Member of the Executive Committee Responsible for Culture and Heritage for the City of Montréal, spoke of how delighted she was to be meeting with colleagues and experts from all over the world, and invited conference-goers to join the soldiers of the Compagnie franche de la Marine and, to the strains of the bagpiping Olde 78th Fraser Highlanders, to proceed to the lobby of City Hall for cocktails and a banquet. The evening concluded with a tour of the Lights of Old Montréal. Helen Fotopulos
 
Lights of Old Montréal
http://www.vieux.montreal.qc.ca/planlum/eng/lu_intra.htm
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December 17, 2003