Oil Springs bid for UNESCO complete

Charlie Fairbank will be showing experts from around the world the family's historic oil fields Saturday.


It’s in the hands of Parks Canada.

After months of work, the application to have the Oil Springs Industrial Landscape included in a Canada’s Tentative List for World Heritage Sites is complete.

Fairbank Oil Fields’ Owner Charles Fairbank has been working with Lambton County on the application after hearing from a Parks Canada representative that the government would be considering World Heritage sites again, soon.

Oil Springs is the birthplace of the modern day oil industry.

The Fairbank Oil Fields are 350 wells spread out over more than 600 acres. It is a commercial operation which uses authentic 19th century technology to pull the oil from the ground.

The area is already a National Historic Site and part of the County’s Oil Heritage Conservation District under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Securing the UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site would make Oil Springs a major tourist attraction.

And the bid is getting some support from other corners. Local politicians met with Ontario’s minister of tourism recently to get a boost for the bid.

While the local work has been done, it will be some time before Lambton County finds out if it is even on the list to be considered. The application has to be reviewed by Parks Canada. If it is selected as one of Canada’s choices for a UNESCO designation, then UNESCO would evaluate the submission. All that could take years.

If the Oil Springs Industrial Landscape is given UNESCO status, it will be one of nine sites in Canada.